America has always been fascinated by the popular music exported back to us by our neighbors from across the pond. Perhaps most prominent was an oddly coiffed quartet of lads from Liverpool who simultaneously horrified parents and changed music (and hairstyles) forever. The British invasion of the 1960s has profoundly influenced music in every decade leading to the present.
Our invaders are the feminine kind, each exhibiting an abundance of passion, grit, and soul. Included in our collection are some of today's most huge hit makers who, not unlike the invaders from the 1960s, are heavily steeped in the classic forms of American music - Blues, Soul, R&B and Rock and Roll. The ultimate simpatico cultural exchange!
We have assembled the quintessential American ensemble, the organ trio, to interpret these songs. My collaborators are new - Adam Scone - we recently started playing music together when Adam relocated from New York to South Florida; and old - Rudy Petschauer - with whom I logged countless hours on the road with as a member of organist Jack McDuff’s group. The like-mindedness of the trio was apparent from the first time we played together. Swinging, soulful, funky, it’s all there. Cheery O!
With the right musicians, the classic Hammond organ trio is arguably the most eclectic and versatile small ensemble in American music.
For the organ trio to operate at maximum capacity, you must have an organist like Adam Scone who builds his sound from the bottom up. Whether he is walking a bass line or playing a funky pattern, Adam's bass never falters, regardless of what wildness is happening with his right hand at the other end of the double keyboard. This is what makes a real organ player, and when it feels right you don't miss having a bass player at all. In fact, when it’s this good, organ bass covers anything an electric or acoustic bass would handle but adds its own unique flavor.
When you add a wide-open, adventurous guitarist like John Hart to that organ sound, you have eliminated musical boundaries and can seamlessly and convincingly cover all styles: Blues, Jazz, Rock, Soul, Bossa Nova all fit like a glove with the right organ trio. You can play at a whisper in an intimate nightclub or fill Madison Square Garden with groovy music. Stylistic considerations don't exist in the right organ trio and to me, this trio certainly does it right.
This project brings me full circle. I was introduced to jazz early on as my mother’s favorite radio station played the music of Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie. However, the first thing I ever learned on the drums was John Bonham's beat on Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks”. So you could say it was the British Invasion that initially inspired me and led to a lifelong compulsion to play the drums.
Rudy Albin Petschauer
We had breakfast one morning. There was a plate containing watery beans, sausage, bacon, eggs, and insanely deep fried hash browns. Rudy was driving on the “wrong side” of the road through southern England. We looked to our right and there was Stonehenge. We agreed that we had no idea who the Druids were or what they were doing. I’m sure we followed this up with having some fish and chips, or bangers and mash. We then went on to play the largest music festival in the U.K. Oh yeah, and when people ask me my name I say, “Scone, like the English biscuit.”
As a Hammond organist, playing in this group is pure pleasure. Jack McDuff is a real influence on me and I feel that his ability to make a small group sound like a little big band is truly phenomenal. My favorite record of all time is Jack McDuff’s “The Honeydripper.” John and Rudy spent many years playing in Jack’s band and understand perfectly how to make a small group sound like this. I saw them perform with Jack. I remember one time at the Blue Note in New York and the double bill was Jack McDuff and Jimmy Smith. That was a real night of organ!
The amount of musicality these guys bring to the table is phenomenal and inspiring. We worked hard to make these arrangements unique. John would create a harmony here, I would add an organ part there, and Rudy would bring the undeniable beat that works best with the Hammond Organ group.
They are steeped in the tradition. They are both masters of their instrument and style, but they also understand the give and take required to transcend the group to a different musical level.
All great organ groups take popular songs and use them as vehicles to churn out organ style hits. That’s what we are doing here. We focus on the modern music of the UK, but follow in the footsteps of the masters. John is a genius of harmony and has come up with very interesting ways to make what may just be one chord on the original version an epic of modern jazz sensibility. Take Royals for example. I would have never thought it was possible to accomplish that.
Rehab – We picked up the tempo on the 2006 Amy Winehouse hit with a street beat from Rudy reminiscent of some of the great collaborations between Grant Green and Big John Patton. It’s a 16-bar blues.
Don’t Start Lyin To Me Now – From neo soul star Joss Stone, we keep it close to the 2011 original and use it as an excuse for some good old-fashioned garage band jamming.
The Look of Love – The ubiquitous Burt Bacharach/Hal David hit, covered by countless pop singers and jazz musicians alike, played by all of us on numerous gigs. Dusty Springfield had a hit in 1967 with it. We keep it as a jazz bossa but reinvent the harmony in an exotic fashion.
Smooth Operator – The 1984 Sade hit, we’ve all played it many times but never like this! A rockin’ shuffle.
Royals – This song was a Grammy winner and a major hit on Lorde’s 2013 debut album. For the trio I had the idea that we would go a little heavier with our interpretation. From there it took on a life of its own.
Turning Tables – A beautiful Adele song off her 2011 release 21, we interpret it as a jazz waltz with a nod to Larry Young and Elvin Jones and echoes of the great Coltrane Quartet.
Rolling in the Deep – Adele has such a huge presence in her sound and we thought the best way to do justice to that would be to go full Band of Gypsies on this song, originally released also in 2011 on 21.
I Only Want To Be With You – Dusty Springfield had a hit in 1963 with this light and infectious melody. We swing it in the tradition of the Great American Songbook.
Blues For The U.K. – A little shout-out to our friends across the pond. Organ trio blues, what else can I say.
Body And Soul – Amy Winehouse had a tragic life and this posthumously released duet with Tony Bennett in 2011 shows a side of her seldom heard. We adapted the beautiful orchestral arrangement for trio and present as such.
Back To Black – The title tune from Ms. Winehouse’s Grammy winning 2007 album. As Rudy would say, we ham hock it in the great tradition of the organ hits of bygone days.
John Hart, October 2017
Produced by John Hart, Adam Scone, and Rudy Albin Petschauer. Executive Producer: Joachim “Jochen” Jochen Becker. Recorded on June 25 and 26, 2017 by Brian Robertson at 10K Island in Miami, Fl. Assisted by Patrick Howard. Mixed and Mastered by Brian Robertson at 10K Island in Miami, Fl. Photography by - Philip Avello. Art direction and package design by: Jack Frisch
John Hart plays D’Addario Strings. Adam Scone is a Hammond Artist.