There has never been an organ at the Zurich Jazz Orchestra until now! For the traditional end-of-year concert of the Big Band, we are looking forward to the internationally renowned Munich jazz organist Barbara Dennerlein. Dennerlein’s career has been extremely straightforward and determined: at the age of 11 she got her first single-manual organ, and at 15 she was already playing in a jazz club during the school summer vacations. Soon the one manual was no longer enough. An upgrade to the Hammond B3 followed, regular performances and then, at the age of 23, the accolade: with the then German “Big-Band-Papst” and youth promoter Peter Herbolzheimer, she recorded the big band album “Tribute to Charlie” in 1986. The collaboration, to which she contributed four of her own compositions in addition to Charlie Parker pieces, was a declaration of love to bebop, was awarded the German Record Critics’ Prize, and quickly made Barbara Dennerlein known to a wider audience. To date, she has released close to 30 albums of her own on well-known labels such as Enja and Verve, and has played with internationally renowned musicians such as Ray Anderson, Roy Hargrove and Jeff Tain Watts.
Unlike many organists, such as Jimmy Smith or Larry Young, who have made the instrument respectable in jazz, Dennerlein plays the bass not with her left hand but via the foot pedals. This idiosyncrasy has become her trademark.
In addition to Dennerlein’s playing, which comes along with a lot of drive and therefore mixes very well with a big band sound, the audience can also get to know her compositional side this evening – most of the titles in the program are her own compositions. With one small exception: our drummer Pius Baschnagel, with whom Dennerlein often performs, has arranged one of her pieces for the occasion.