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Barbara Dennerlein + Daniel Jackson: live in Balboa Park

Dennerlein did her best to make the huge outdoor pipe organ swing -- with mixed results.

I caught the first set of Barbara Dennerlein's concert at the Spreckles Organ Pavilion on July 29, my first experience listening to the much talked about outdoor pipe organ. Dennerlein, on the other hand, I've been enjoying since the early '90s, when she released That's Me an album featuring the great trombonist Ray Anderson.

She opened with "Oversized," an original that took advantage of the many timbre possibilities of the instrument, although the bass pedals seemed awfully sluggish to me, putting some serious brakes on her ability to swing the way she can on her Hammond B-3. Still, she managed to keep it interesting with effective use of repetition, color and occasional swaths of dissonance.

The second piece, "Symphony in Minor," was more ambitious, beginning with echoes of European Classical music before switching up to a groove section where her judicious choice of instrument stops started to really click. Maybe I'm shallow when it comes to pipe organs -- but for me, Dennerlein's performance was at its peak when she went for it, volume and density wise. Those moments were golden, and too rare.

On "Holy Blues," the organist brought local tenor saxophone hero Daniel Jackson to the stage, and in the course of three or four notes, he transformed the energy of the performance into a higher plane. Jackson ran it down, so to speak, and his blues fluency seemed to inspire Dennerlein into a less risk averse dynamic.

Jackson hung around for "Tin Tin Deo," providing some potent commentary in stark relief to the organist's grand gestures -- often distilling everything down to the most essential elements. I only wish he stayed "on-mic,' more consistently, because his beautiful tone tended to get lost in the air whenever he moved an inch out of the pick-up pattern.

Photo by Bonnie Wright

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I caught the first set of Barbara Dennerlein's concert at the Spreckles Organ Pavilion on July 29, my first experience listening to the much talked about outdoor pipe organ. Dennerlein, on the other hand, I've been enjoying since the early '90s, when she released That's Me an album featuring the great trombonist Ray Anderson.

She opened with "Oversized," an original that took advantage of the many timbre possibilities of the instrument, although the bass pedals seemed awfully sluggish to me, putting some serious brakes on her ability to swing the way she can on her Hammond B-3. Still, she managed to keep it interesting with effective use of repetition, color and occasional swaths of dissonance.

The second piece, "Symphony in Minor," was more ambitious, beginning with echoes of European Classical music before switching up to a groove section where her judicious choice of instrument stops started to really click. Maybe I'm shallow when it comes to pipe organs -- but for me, Dennerlein's performance was at its peak when she went for it, volume and density wise. Those moments were golden, and too rare.

On "Holy Blues," the organist brought local tenor saxophone hero Daniel Jackson to the stage, and in the course of three or four notes, he transformed the energy of the performance into a higher plane. Jackson ran it down, so to speak, and his blues fluency seemed to inspire Dennerlein into a less risk averse dynamic.

Jackson hung around for "Tin Tin Deo," providing some potent commentary in stark relief to the organist's grand gestures -- often distilling everything down to the most essential elements. I only wish he stayed "on-mic,' more consistently, because his beautiful tone tended to get lost in the air whenever he moved an inch out of the pick-up pattern.

Photo by Bonnie Wright

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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