Happy Birthday Barbara Dennerlein

September 25, 1964


One of the great jazz organists

Barbara Dennerlein has been one of jazz’s top organists since the 1980s.

Born September 25, 1964 in Munich, Germany, Barbara Dennerlein started playing the organ when she was 11 and, unlike most organists, did not originally start on the piano.

By the time she was 14, Dennerlein was playing concerts and at 15 was appearing in jazz clubs; she was nicknamed the “Organ tornado from Munich.”

She made her first recording when she was 19 in 1983 and has thus far led over two dozen albums.

Dennerlein is most notable for expanding the sound of the Hammond B3 organ, utilizing some sounds that were originated on synthesizers and samplers, developing her own personality on her instrument, and getting away from the usual dominant Jimmy Smith organ influence.

While she has occasionally utilized Americans on her recordings (including Ray Anderson, Randy Brecker and Roy Hargrove), Dennerlein has spent her career based in Europe.

Among her projects have been recordings with the pipe organ and teaming up with symphonic orchestras although she has mostly been heard with her own inventive combos.

Here is Barbara Dennerlein at a concert in April 2015 playing “Organ Boogie” in a duet with drummer Dron Mondlak; check out her fancy footwork on the bass.

-Scott Yanow

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