The Jazz Session #317: Larry Goldings

Larry Goldings has two new CDs out: In My Room (BFM Jazz, 2011), a solo piano CD, and Live At Smalls (SmallsLive, 2011) with his organ trio featuring Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart. In this interview, Goldings talks about approaching each piano on its own terms; how he first met Bernstein and Stewart; and his unplanned entry into the bands of Maceo Parker and James Taylor. Learn more at larrygoldings.com and follow him on Twitter at @LarryGoldings.

Gene Ludwig, 1937-2010

Organist Gene Ludwig passed away on July 14, 2010. I didn’t know him well, but he was a guest on The Jazz Session in August, 2009, and we spoke several times in person and by phone and email. Gene and his wife Pattye were extremely kind to me and to everyone with whom I saw them interact, particularly during Gene’s performance last year in Schenectady, NY. My thoughts are with Pattye and with their families at this time.

Gene’s Schenectady gig inspired a poem that appears in my book, Unexpected Sunlight. You can read the poem at jasoncrane.org.

Gene Ludwig

GeneatClefClub
Photo by Ben Johnson, Sr.

I saw organist Gene Ludwig in concert earlier tonight, and wrote these three pieces while watching the show. If you’d like to know more about Gene, listen to my interview with him on The Jazz Session.

Gene Ludwig

1.

Gone deep inside, he slides
effortlessly across the organ keys,
never losing the sense of weightlessness
every earthbound mortal
longs for.
Unlike most, he isn’t held
down by gravity, not forced to
wear the chains of step-by-step,
inch-by-inch. Instead, he
gently leaves the earth, smiling.

2.

Perhaps he’s the local mortician,
skin made alabaster through
affinity with those he serves;
or an accountant, toiling away
until life’s energy winds down
like the gold watch they’ll give him;
he could be any one of a hundred
buttoned-up Rotarians in grey flannel suits,
friends with the mayor or with
the chief of police.
Then he sits down at the organ, and
joy springs from those ivory fingers.
He strips off the grey shell,
revealing the light at his core.
That light is the only thing
that reaches us faster
than his sound.

3.

Grabbing two handfuls of
electricity, he
naturally believes that life is beautiful, that
everyone has ready access to this
level of presence, this certain
understanding of the melody.
Doubtless, they all
would trade places
if they could, exchanging
Gene’s grace for their own.

The Jazz Session #72: Gene Ludwig

ludwig

Jason Crane interviews organist Gene Ludwig. He tossed a coin to decide whether to be an engineer or a musician. With that out of the way, Ludwig came on the scene in the late 1950s and has made a living playing the organ ever since. He’s been in the bands of Sonny Stitt and Arthur Prysock, and has played opposite everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Cannonball Adderley. The musical samples in this interview are from Ludwig’s recording Hands On (Blue Leaf Records, 2003). Learn more at GeneLudwig.com.

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The Jazz Session #54: Barbara Dennerlein

dennerlein

Jason Crane interviews organist Barbara Dennerlein about her pipe organ recording Spiritual Movement No. 2 (Bebab Records, 2008). The album was recorded at one of Germany’s most famous churches in front of a very appreciative audience. In this interview, recorded before a concert in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Dennerlein discusses jazz on the pipe organ; why organists should use their feet; and how she adapts to the challenge of seldom having her own instrument on stage.