Blicher Hemmer Gadd is a jazz trio distinguished by music created by three of the most acclaimed musicians in their field: Two-time Danish Grammy-winning saxophonist Michael Blicher, Danish Hammond organ wizard Dan Hemmer, and Legendary American drummer Steve Gadd.
There are many things that distinguish this talented trio from other jazz bands, but first and foremost is the ease with which they collaborate both in creating their music and then sharing it with their audiences. Each of these men seem to have an uncanny feel for the others’ vibe, yet also have their own unique perspectives that create a whole truly greater than its three parts.
This melding of musicians has produced three acclaimed albums and a band that has toured much of the world and delighted fans in Japan, Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, England, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. The crowds they attract and the reaction of those crowds are a testament help prove that music truly is a universal language.
That language is communicated through what renowned drummer Gadd calls “honest music.” Listening to his hypnotic drumming, to a sizzling saxophone rift from Blicher, or to the way Hemmer makes his Hammond sound like it’s being played by two people, and it’s easy to appreciate why Gadd says, “No one plays like this anymore.”
That’s saying something given Gadd’s background. Just try finding another drummer who has played so many sessions with so many of the biggest names in music over the past half-century. The list includes Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Chick Corea, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Paul McCartney, Chet Baker and many, many more.
Yet despite having performed with a “who’s who” of musicians, playing with Blicher and Hemmer rank right up there with Gadd’s favorite gigs. Why? Well, part of the reason is undoubtedly because the three men work so well together and share so many of the same feelings about music. But it also has a lot to do with the feeling Gadd gets when the trio lets loose and he can proclaim, “The drums are back!”
Gadd says this kind of music and playing reminds him of the times back home in Rochester, N.Y., when he would sit in with Dizzy Gillespie and other touring jazz band greats. It’s simple and yet very remarkable that a drummer as successful as Gadd can still find new ways to unfold music and create fresh sounds.
Gadd’s bandmates are the perfect complement to his style. Just as his drumming comes alive with a presence and immediacy that gives it an otherworldliness, the same is true of Blicher’s saxophone and Hemmer’s organ. In their hands, those instruments sound as if the music is emanating straight from the sax’s wooden reed and the organ’s turning tone wheels rather than the men who are actually making it.
In addition to his soulful saxophone playing, the award-winning Blicher composes most of the band’s music. He draws on a diverse background inspired by the musical scenes and sounds he has experienced journeying to New Orleans, Nashville, Bulgaria, Asia, and West Africa that he developed while playing with the popular Nordic Afrobeat band, The Kutimangoes. By melding these seemingly disparate styles with his own sensibilities, Blicher captures what he calls a “universal musical energy” that Blicher Hemmer Gadd joyfully shares with its audiences.
Hemmer, meanwhile, does things on his Hammond few other organists can match. His bandmates and music critics have gone so far as to call his playing “unique,” because he has the uncanny ability to make the Hammond sound as if it is being played by more than one person. Despite the keyboardist’s virtuoso abilities, the music he creates meshes perfectly with that of Blicher and Gadd.
This synergy helps bond these three men not only as musicians, but as friends. Their friendship dates back to 2012, when Blicher met Gadd at a master class in Denmark and learned the drummer enjoyed playing his compositions. Blicher soon introduced Gadd to Hemmer, with whom he had made an album and toured Scandinavia. The melding of each man’s musical gifts led to a 17-show tour of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in 2014, and the trio continued touring until the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
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