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12 notes from C to C

Digging deeper into mu:zines archives, there’s this interview with Jon Lord from the time of Before I Forget, published in August 1982 issue of Electronics & Music Maker.

On the album ‘Where Are You’ it seems to have a Debussy type ending.

Jon Well, again, he is a composer that I used to play quite a bit when I was a kid. Of course, you can listen to Chick Corea and hear Debussy and Ravel floating around — all those French impressionist ideas have had a lot of influence in modern jazz.

Brubeck was obviously an influence, because I just used to love the way he played a solo. He just used to knock me out. He suffered from a loss of belief in people and the music seemed to come so easy to him, but people often did not respect his fertile imagination. In my early days I had a band with a line up of piano, bass, drums, vibes, alto sax and clarinet so we were able to do some quite weird things. The alto sax player was Jack Shepherd who later turned to acting. For me he was one of the best alto players and he introduced me to Charlie Mingus and that school.

My interest in the jazz idiom led me to find Jimmy Smith. Well, he found me! I heard ‘A Walk on the Wild Side’ and I really wasn’t too sure what the instrument was. I’d played church organ but I’d never heard that lovely percussive effect of the jazz organ and thought, what the hell is that, it’s wonderful! Not so long after I joined an R&B band who insisted on having an organist instead of a pianist, (this was in the mid Sixties), so I fell into Hammond playing. But I was still playing church organ at the time.

Haven’t you used a Hammond on your new album?

Jon Yes, it’s a split Hammond that’s been heavily modified. I’ve had it since 1968, although it’s about 25-30 years old and it is one of the original C3 models.

One thing they say about organ playing and organ technique is that unlike the piano, you have to make your own expression. It doesn’t matter how hard you hit the keys obviously, so you have to use a swell pedal, but I find that from a Hammond you do get something back. I have developed my own right foot swell technique, but nevertheless I do find I get a bounce back from the Hammond keyboard — almost like a piano although different in its way. And the fingering is different too.

Read the whole thing in mu:zines. Caveat: the interview is pretty long and gets rather technical at times — this is a music production magazine after all.

4 Comments to “12 notes from C to C”:

  1. 1
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Jon is hugely underrated for what he de facto was most of the time within DP: their rhythm guitarist. People remember him tipping the hammond,ones unisono riffs with Blackers, his classical runs and flourishes, his spaced out rock solos, but when all that wasn’t taking place, he and Ian Paice still determined the groove of DP. And unlike Rainbow or Gillan (the band), DP always grooved (Whitesnake, as long as he played with them, did as well, though his rhythm work with that band was more inconspicuous to leave room for the two guitars). In that way, Jon was DP’s Keith Richards. He gets way too little credit for that pivotal role in the DP sound.

    Ritchie, though a precise, methodic rhythm player with great timing, could never be bothered much with rhythm guitar as an art form. That is why a lot of rhythm guitar on DP heyday recordings sounds a little static (in fact, Blackmore’s rhythm playing with BN today is more varied than it has ever been with either DP or Rainbow) – especially compared to, say, Blackmore’s old nemesis Jimmy P. -, but Jon’s busy rhythm playing on the Hammond compensated for that (and Ritchie left him the necessary room for it as Jon would always stress).

    You could take Jon’s solo on Hush and reduce it to just one tonal note, the sheer rhythm going on would still excite.

  2. 2
    MacGregor says:

    Before I Forget, a Jon Lord masterpiece indeed. I only played Tender Babes a few days ago, a great Lord, Cozy Powell & Neil Murray piece, what great players they are & all the other wonderful musicians on that album. Bach Onto This, what a track & Simon Phillips drumming & Neil Murray again on bass with Bernie Marsden on guitar, say no more! Side two is sublime, beautiful singing from Vicki & Sam Brown & Elmer Gantry. Also the Bad Company trio of Ralphs, Kirke & Burrell & Tony Ashton & of course Ian Paice. Cheers.

  3. 3
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Why is no one demanding a CD release of 1984’s Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady? I only have the vinyl!


    Stylewise, it anticipated some of the music Jon would release many years later on Pictured Within (meanwhile out of print, which is another crime).

    It’s a shame that so many years after his death, there is still no boxed set collating all his solo work.

  4. 4
    MacGregor says:

    A wonderful interview by the way, many thank for posting it. Before I Forget is easily my favourite Jon Lord album, much more accessible than his others, more to my liking for songs & shorter instrumentals etc. Not that he has ever made a bad album. The classical music side of his output is harder to get into for me. As is a lot of other classical music. A great insight into a superb album. Cheers.

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