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Hammond B3 Organ Trios and Soul Jazz 1955-1965

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Hammond B3 organ trios (organ, guitar, and drum set) were a distinctive part of the jazz soundscape from the mid-1950s and throughout the 1960s. Stylistically they tended to play in a genre termed “soul jazz” and incorporated elements of black popular music such as the blues, R&B, and gospel. Drawing on archival and secondary sources, I provide a history of the Hammond organ and its role in the music we can call jazz as well as an analysis of the critical discourse surrounding the Hammond B3 and soul jazz. I use Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s theory of signifyin(g) and the trope of call and response as a framework to analyze transcribed excerpts of Hammond organ groups and discuss some of their salient musical characteristics. Finally, I aim to situate them within a larger history of African American music, particularly with regard to the relationships between the sacred, the secular, and art.

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