May 19 – Hopkins Hammond Organ Trio

The Hopkins Hammond Organ Trio have the right name. The Hammond in their name does not apply to the kind of music they play in the sense that they do not have a Hammond organ. What they do have is a keyboard which with a few deft switching arrangements can be made to sound like a Hammond organ. Perhaps, to be more correct, to sound as near as possible to the sound of the Hammond B3 organ.

The B3, is a model in the Hammond organ range which has been, and is the one that jazz musicians seem to love ever since Jimmy Smith made it his own in the fifties and sixties. This group though consisted of Matt Hopkins, guitar; Scott Hammond, drums with Ruth Hammond, keyboard. The Hammond was in the name.

So is a keyboard a match for the real thing? The answer to that has to be no, but if you enjoy organ trios as many do, then you’ll put the technicalities to one side and enjoy the music. Our audience on Monday was somewhat thin, but then it was a bank holiday and it also clashed with the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Some people turned up on Monday with pre-conceived ideas. They weren’t that fond of organ trios, but I guess the majority will have grown up with Jimmy Smith and have been re-introduced to the delights of this set up with the emergence of present day trios like that of Nigel Price.

The downside of what we heard on Monday, I think was the lack of the real thing. Keyboards are very good at imitating the sound of whatever, piano, harpsichord, organ and sometimes even a full string section, but it’s not that hard to see through them, or to be more correct, to hear that the sound is not the real deal. But then the musicians’ argument is that you need many more resources to transport the real organ and of course much more money to buy it in the first place.

But these imitators were able to present a mix of tunes and the excitement of the organ trio sound. The balance between the drums, the guitar and the keyboard was a bit lacking at times, and it was almost as if the sound increased in volume during the evening.

There were a few of their own compositions, but mainly they stuck to the well-trodden and fairly safe track of known music like Triste and Pat Metheney’s Ballad.