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May Feature: The B3 Organ

Throughout May, Crossroads teams up with Global Village, Strange Currency, Night Train and Straight No Chaser to celebrate B3 Month on KMUW. At the Crossroads, it's great players and recordings from both blues and soul that feature the instrument.Hammond began building organs in the 1930s and from the mid-'50s to the mid-'70s produced its famous B3 model. It weighed in at over 400 pounds (not counting the 125-pound Leslie speaker), originally sold for over $2000, and quickly became known for its distinctive, wide ranging, and warm sound.

One of the early markets for Hammond organs were as replacements for pipe organs in churches. So it is not surprising that the Hammond B3 would fit nicely into blues, rhythm & blues, jazz, and soul jazz styles that all trace their roots back to gospel.

The golden age of jazz organ had a strong soul influence and in turn would influence other styles.
Jimmy Smith is largely credited with ushering in the golden age, starting a few short years after the B3 hit the market, and a slew of talented players came along behind him - including Jimmy McGriff, Charles Earland, Jack McDuff, Reuben Wilson, Don Patterson, "Groove" Holmes, John Patton, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Shirley Scott, to name a few.

Booker T. & the MGs with a live performance of "Green Onions"

On the blues side, players like B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, and others included the organ in their work, while on the soul side, records from artists like Ray Charles, Al Green and Booker T. & the MGs all prominently featured the instrument. Rock artists with blues roots like Gregg Allman and Al Kooper, and current day players like Ron Levy, Tony Z, and Mike Finnigan carry on the tradition.

Throughout May, Crossroads highlights music from early pioneers, golden era masters and the latest players on the scene -along with classic recordings, contemporary titles, and a number of new blues and soul albums that also prominently feature the instrument.

The Allman Brothers Band w/ Eric Clapton - Gregg Allman on organ and vocals - doing "Stormy Monday"