There’s so much joy in the sound of the Hammond organ, especially for those of us of a certain age. Hearing it can transport you to the early ‘70s, when every rock band seemed to have one in its arsenal: The Allman Brothers, Santana, Deep Purple. In the hands of true masters — like the late Billy Preston and the very-much-alive Booker T. Jones — the organ can be a melodic, funky rhythm machine.
Cory Henry’s name belongs in the same breath as the Hammond organ masters of the past. The instrument creates the central sound of his dynamic, neo-soul- and funk-infused musical identity, and he opens his turn behind the Tiny Desk with what feels like an encore: the full-on soul assault of “Love Will Find a Way.” The song twists and turns, then winds up as a full-on celebration — and it’s only the first song in his set.
Henry’s keyboard skills are on full display during a synth solo in “Trade It All,” which also spotlights his entire band. To my mind, they’d have sounded right at home on Stax Records in the ‘70s — no small accomplishment. “Send Me a Song” then showcases some of the roots of Henry’s songwriting; it’s inspired by church sermons that bloom into group sing-alongs. Just another way Cory Henry digs way back to give us something new and exciting.
- “Love Will Find a Way”
- “Trade It All”
- “Send Me Sign”
Producers: Abby O’Neill, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Colin Marshall, Beck Harlan, Bronson Arcuri, Kara Frame; Production Assistants: Marissa Lorusso and Fernando Gallardo; Photo: NPR