Chris Robinson @crmusicwriter

mostly music, sometimes books


A Few More Thoughts on B3 Recordings

More thoughts regarding my last post on current B3 recordings and the sounds of the instrument, not the playing itself…

1. Just to clarify, I’m not suggesting that contemporary organ players like Sam Yahel, Gary Versace, Jared Gold, etc., need to sound like Jimmy Smith, Shirley Scott, in their approach to their instrument.  I’m talking about how relatively more dynamic and alive the B3 sounds on older, and primarily analog, recordings.

Ex. if you think of the sonic space an instrument takes up on a recording as existing in between a horizontal set of parallel lines, then I’m talking about new B3 albums as sounding like this:


as opposed to sounding like



If that makes any sense at all.

2. After writing my last post I went on the youtube machine and checked out live videos of Chris Foreman, who is the organist in the Deep Blue Organ Trio (somewhere on this site is my review of their latest album).  Then I compared the sound on the live videos with studio recordings that were on youtube.  Despite the fact that I was watching the videos over youtube – so the sound quality wasn’t that great – I noticed that his instrument sounded better on the live performances that it did in the studio.

3. While my youtube experiment with Chris Foreman videos is obviously flawed and non-scientific, after seeing organists live and hearing them on records, hearing how consistently powerful and rich organs sound on older analog records, and checking out the sound on new B3 recordings seem relatively flat – the audiophile in me would like to blame digital recordings and the high amount of compression that is found on just about every album nowadays.

4. It could be that it’s not the fault of digital at all – it could be that there are new techniques for recording the B3 which are meant to create the type of sound we hear now.  It could be that the techniques that made older B3 records sound so good are lost.  Or perhaps those who know aren’t sharing –  as an organist I know who I play with told me, he had heard that Rudy van Gelder is taking his recording techniques to the grave.

5. There are a handful of contemporary B3 CDs I’ve ran into recently that I think sound pretty good.  And when I can get my allergy-wracked-self to sit down and write them, I’ll be hitting you with some reviews of new albums from Brian Charette and Jared Gold.

6. I could be out of my mind and focusing on something that almost nobody cares about.

And now it’s time for me to listen to some more B3 playing.

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