CONCERT – HAMMOND HAPPENING
Different strokes for different folks. The audience of Hammond Happening, mini-festival of organ music, freely wandered in and out of the downstairs and upstairs halls, a very relaxed way to take in the oscillated grooves of a variety of Hammond organ-based groups, including the cream of the Dutch crop.
Real jazz heads arrived early. Although Belgian saxophonist Toine Thys guesses, probably right, that most customers were not familiar with his music. “So, you can discover some new stuff,” says the charming causeur from Brussels, who inherited the ugly task of entertaining a half-filled house. His trio, including organist Arno Krijger and drummer Karl Jannuska, nonetheless goes about its business unfazed, delivering a hypnotic set of African-flavored jazz, smooth exotic rhythms that, surprisingly, eventually even segue into a twisted take on dub reggae. Thys, a regular visitor of the African continent, is a bonafide poet whose lines move with measured pace on both tenor sax and bass clarinet. Krijger is a tasteful avant player and responsive accompanist, expert in creating a warm-blooded ambience. He finishes a Tony William’s Lifetime-ish groove with a piece of gritty and intense storytelling.
Though the corniest of MC’s, akin to the kind of wise guy that hardened inmates love to slap around, the boundless energy and kinetic shenanigans of Cyril Directie, drummer of the funk jazz outfit Montis, Goudsmit & Directie, does, it must be said, charm the Melkweg crowd. He lights the cubes, Montis and Goudsmit drop a couple of biggies on the grill and a big part of the audience certainly seems ready for a lavish BBQ, smiling broadly or shaking hips the old-fashioned crude Whitey-way. Unashamedly over the top, let’s get loud is the trio’s motto. But its performance simultaneously includes sizzling and delicate organ and guitar stuff. Montis is a passionate blues-drenched player equally comfortable with slick soul and classics like Funky Mama. The idiosyncratic and versatile Goudsmit spends his time of Stevie Wonder’s Living In The City half-timing classical lines which must be inspired by some master like Segovia. Cute.
Like Montis, Goudsmit & Directie, Orgel Vreten is a crowd favorite. Orgel Vreten, which translates as McHammond, is a band with two front men on Hammond organ: Thijs Schrijnemakers and Darius Timmers. Its patchwork of wacky New Wave and space rock is rough-hewn and the organ playing hardly of repute, excepting Timmers’ unpredictable rhythmic patterns on the added synth. Strong on stage antics, the highlight of Orgel Vreten’s performance is the presence of Arno Bakker, a big, bearded man on sousaphone – like in BIG and BEARD – who climbs on the set of organs, pounding, twisting and turning and, finally, being engaged in a bass battle with the electric bassist, who had followed suit. Jolly giant. Cousin of Z.Z. Top’s Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons. Fantastic force of nature. It’s a fair spectacle! And lest we forget, this Dusty Gibbons plays the hell out of the sousaphone.
The psychedelic pie of Herbie Hancock, Lauren Hill’s Everything Is Everything and instantly created loops by Boye Ingwersen kicks off the festival in the upstairs hall. Some of the fractured beat patterns would work well as background to the rhymes of underground hip-hop svengalis like MF Doom.
Carlo de Wijs, somewhat the Dutch pater familias of the evening’s crew of organists, developed from straight-ahead player, pop-soul artist to the most extreme innovator around. His custom-made Modular Hammond is a hybrid of the vintage B3 tone wheel system, synths and contemporary digital technology. The whole package is presented on stage, including the effective turntable-ism of Kypski and interconnected visual media. De Wijs introduced his performance with a lecture on his instrument and research of the innovative genius Laurens Hammond.
Like Ingwersen, De Wijs aims for outer space. His spun-out solo’s work to a climax on the dance rhythms of Belgian drummer Jordi Geuens, which are performed with incredible metronomic precision and the aloofness of the Kraftwerk cats. De Wijs takes a different tack with his oldie original composition Mr. Feet, working off a frolic, Stevie Wonder-ish bounce. Throughout, for all the set’s futuristic tendencies, the creative past of De Wijs and the warm and greasy essence of the Hammond organ rings through. There’s an abundance of Jimmy Smith-inspired licks, a Keith Emerson-like energy and, in the form of an intro, pure gospel, evidently a result of De Wijs’s lifelong admiration of the deeply rooted art of Rhoda Scott.
The documentary Killer B3 was furthermore featured in the cinema room. A lovely intermezzo of a quite enjoyable festival of Killer B3 combo’s.
Melkweg, Amsterdam, February 2, 2020.
Toine Thys Trio
Montis, Goudsmit & Directie
New Hammond Sound Project
Photography: Filip Mertens