Organ and Keyboard Cavalcade Review by Ian King

Issue 351 – March 2017

The new year is always a quiet period when it comes to new titles. Some organists like to release their goodies in time for Christmas or for the new spring festivals and concerts. So, here I am between two stools and twiddling my thumbs for ideas of what to write about, so I thought I would have a look back at last years most popular releases.

We had thirty-one new CDs and DVDs last year which, considering the gradual decline in releases, wasn’t too bad as it was a few more than 2015.

2016 started with the sad news of the deaths of two of the most popular figures in the organ scene for the past few decades, Alan Haven and Brian Sharp. Alan hadn’t released a CD in a while, his last was “Everybody’s Talkin’” on our own ORGAN1st label in 2008. Brian had a few releases in recent years, the best being volume one and two of his “OrliTzer” CDs in 2011 where he was playing the Orla GT9000 organ linked to Reg Rawling’s ‘Theatre Organ in a Box’. Both these players will be missed.

We had to wait until February for the first of 2016s releases and it was the new one by Howard Beaumont and his “Wonderful Wonderful” CD. This had a selection of organs; the Roland Atelier 80SL, Roland 350c combo, Roland FP80 digital piano, Yamaha S950 keyboard, Kawai SR6 organ & Hammond A100 (with Leslie 122 speaker). Again, Howard was on top form and the result was one of his best CDs.

Next came the first of four new CDs recorded on new organs with Penny Weedon’s “Walking Back To Happiness” on the Yamaha D-Deck DDK-7 orchestral keyboard with a couple of additions on the Tyros 5. The Tyros 5 was also used on Jason Lee’s first of two 2016 releases and his entry into the easy listening market with a CD called, well, “Easy Listening”.

Chris Barber’s “Music from the Movies” CD was a Wurlitzer release from the resident organist at The Musical Museum, Kew Bridge, London (formerly known as the Brentford Musical Museum). The organ was the same one that was at the Regal/ABC, Kingston Upon Thames until the early 1970s.

March brought us the first of three Klaus Wunderlich releases of the year, all on the Not Now Music label who were venturing into the uncharted territory of organ CDs. The result was “Absolutely Wunderlich” and it was a corker, containing the rehearsal tapes for his 1995 UK tour plus some bonus early self-compositions at the Hammond. The sound quality was excellent as was Klaus’s playing, especially when you realise the recordings were only meant for his use and were never intended for release.

Nigel Dawes “I Dreamed A Dream” had a nice theatre organ sound, but used the ‘Theatre Organ in a Box’ software controlled by a Yamaha EL900. The release of fifty-year old recordings from theatre organist John Madin, cleverly titled “Madin England” also did well being one of the rare theatre organ releases (a ‘Theatre Organ in a Theatre’ rather than in a box!). These tracks were recorded at the Granada, Mansfield Wurlitzer and the Regal, Rotherham Conacher. I wonder what he would have thought about his recordings being re-released fifty years later alongside theatre organ releases which don’t use theatre organs.

Steve Hubble followed up his fantastic 2014 release “My Music” with volume two, playing a Yamaha Tyros 3 and Hammond XPK-100 and it was as good as the first one. Byron Jones was “Celebrating 50 Years of Live Music” with his May release. There weren’t quite tracks from all fifty years as they start in 1970 at the EMI, Plymouth. He also included tracks at the Lowrey Liberty, The Blackpool Tower Wurlitzer, Hammond A100 and Wersi’s Spectra & Scala.

June had the first of two lovely releases by John Kyffin with “Made In Wales” his tribute to Sir Tom Jones recorded on his vintage Wersi setup. There were some great toe tappers in here including all his hits. Another organ first followed with Dutch player Jurgen Kuppens and “Bemore Melange” recorded on the new BeMore Genesis organ. This was the first CD by this new artist and both sounded pretty impressive.

Ian Griffin’s “Beyond The Sea” washed ashore in June. This was a popular seller being his first release in four years and featured material recorded on his concert setup, the Ketron Audya.

“The Great Pop Organ Sound Of Klaus Wunderlich” was different to the other Not Now Music release as it was a compilation of tracks which followed on from the last ever Bell Musik release “Maestro”. This featured thirty-seven tracks (eighty-seven tunes) taken from nineteen LPs covering the period of 1975-1989. We had around two tracks from each LP.

Jackie Davis had a great double CD containing “Five Classic Albums” in July. The LPs included were; “Jumpin’ Jackie,” “Hammond Gone Cha Cha,” “Meets The Trombones,” “Tiger On The Hammond” & “Big Beat Hammond”. These were all beautifully restored and packaged by Avid Jazz with a running time of just under two hours and forty minutes. If you like the early Hammond sound of the 1950s and 1960s, then this was a great release for you.

Not Now Music released four double CD sets in 2016, three were Klaus and the other one was this… “Organ Moods” – The Expressive Sound of the Electronic Organ.” This contained forty original tracks with one per organist (which goes to show how many organists there were in the early days). This was a great selection of early organ (mainly Hammond) recordings. The selection of tracks was down to Alan Ashton, who had a busy year being involved in the other three Klaus CDs.

The third new organ CD arrived in August, this time it was the Wersi Pergamon OAX1000 in the hands (and feet) of top German organist Claudia Hirschfeld. “My Heroes” was a tribute to two recent losses in the music industry; James Last and Udo Jürgens. James Last was well known all over the world, while Jürgens was a composer and singer who was only really big in Germany, selling over 100 million albums (with 110 making it into the German charts). Admittedly the James Last tracks are more popular over here, but Jürgens knew a thing or two about writing catchy tunes.

Nicholas Martin brought us the first DVD of 2016 with “At Home and Abroad” which was a compilation originally released to his fan club members. It also included rare tracks at the Wersi Louvre and tracks from a 2015 Shrewsbury Buttermarket concert.

September brought a new dance CD from Carol Bradbury and her first at the Yamaha Tyros 5. Jason Lee was back again in October with the follow-up to his 2015 “Best of Lounge Organ” CD using his KeyB & Nord C2D organs. As the title suggests this was a pretty-good recreation of the Hammond drawbar sound.

The last of the four new organ releases was Dirkjan Ranzijn’s “Sinfonia,” recorded on the Böhm Sinfonia 480 DJR Edition. This had Dirk’s mix of the popular and lesser-recorded tunes. The new concert DVD mentioned on the sleeve should be available around Easter time.

John Kyffin released his second CD of the year in November with the brilliant “A Juniors Choice,” which was his tribute to BBC Radio One’s “Junior Choice” weekend show and Ed “Stewpot” Stewart who died earlier in 2016. Again John was playing his vintage Wersi organs and Tyros 2 and the result was the most cheerful and catchy organ CD EVER!

The second DVD of 2016 arrived by way of Chris Powell and his “Anything Goes” release. This one contained nearly two hours worth of music recorded at the Wurlitzer & Compton organs of the Burtey Fen Collection.

Klaus Wunderlich’s third release “An Evening With…” came in December. Along the same lines as “Absolutely Wunderlich” it featured pre-concert demo recordings but this time from his 1989 UK tour. It is good to see there is still a demand for Klaus’s recordings as his three CDs were our top sellers of the year.

Nicholas Martin just squeezed in his 2016 CD release “Dizzy Fingers” in December. Again this was played on his Technics FA-1 with a lovely Blackpool medley on the “Theatre Organ In A Box” software.

Maestro Records reduced their sequence dance output from twelve CDs in 2015 to just five in 2016. Richard Keeling CDs topped and tailed the year with “Isn’t It Romantic” and “The Twelfth Of Never” (both at the Ketron SD1 Plus) and there were CDs from three of their top players; Larry Green’s “It’s All In The Game” (Tyros 4), Dave Floyd’s nostalgic “The Way We Were” (Tyros 5) and David Last’s Lloyd Webber tribute, “Music Of The Night” (Tyros 5). Larry Green’s “Rolling Round The World” and Ronnie Ross’s “Enjoy Yourself” have just been released in January 2017.

Well that was a brief look back at last year and hopefully there will be a few releases ahead in 2017. If you want track lists and prices of any of the above, they are all on our website or you can write or phone for a list.

Review by Ian King from Organ and Keyboard Cavalcade Magazine.