Organ Yank formed in 2007 at Oberlin Conservatory, one of the premier music schools in the world, with the goal of bringing jazz to the people. Organ Yank melds infectious grooves, catchy melodies, and intricate textures into the unique entertainment experience of the century.
Currently based out of Chicago, Organ Yank has been hard at work on their follow up to 2010's "We Are Organ Yank." Set to drop Summer 2013, Organ Yank "Hard" will lift spirits and melt faces with its unbridled energy and unparalleled beauty. In short, you will like the way you feel. We guarantee it.
“Songs flowed from a controlled chaos to a smooth and melodious tone with incredible ease.” –The Oberlin Review
“Great energy! I loved every minute of it!”–Pat Martino
“Organ Yank is awesome!”–Ruth Underwood, former percussionist of Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention
“If there ever was a band to embody the term ‘auditory orgasm,’ Organ Yank would be it.” –fearlessandloathing.com
Danny Kamins - Saxophones
Alex Cohen - Guitar
Andrew Lawrence - keyboards
Pete Manheim - Drums
Organ Yank - Dec 2008
We Are Organ Yank - Sept 2010
Hard-Due Summer 2013
We Are Organ Yank Review
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Organ Yank’s music doesn’t apologize. Since its humble beginnings in 2007, the band has shaken halls...Organ Yank’s music doesn’t apologize. Since its humble beginnings in 2007, the band has shaken halls and houses in and outside of Oberlin with its special brew of unadulterated jazz-rock. Now, its debut album We Are Organ Yank collects some of the group’s most popular songs in one endlessly repeatable package, allowing fans to crank pulsing tunes whether they’re chugging another PBR at a house party or just writing a paper.
From the first track, “Bacon & Eggs,” the members of Organ Yank make it obvious that they’re going to have fun, and that you’re invited to the party. This tasty track showcases the band’s incomparable ability to forge a driving song with the simplest of melodies. An intriguing aspect of Organ Yank’s music is its frequent choice to allow Danny Kamins, OC ’10, and Tom Stephens, OC ’10, to hold the groove with Kamins’s low, growling saxophone hitting riffs as hard as Stephens’ drum set.
With its second track, We Are Organ Yank immediately sets a different tone, as “Road Dome” recalls the relaxed yet energetic mood of Freddie Hubbard’s fusion explorations in the ’70s. With this follow-up to their steam locomotive of an album opener, Organ Yank establishes that it can play more than party music. Bandleader Andrew Lawrence, OC ’09, creates buttery harmonies with his organ to match the soaring solos from Kamins and guitarist Alex Cohen, OC ’10.
Fans will rejoice to hear that this album also includes the one-of-a-kind “Next to God, There Is No Greater Protector Than I,” a track that showcases Lawrence’s talent as “the best Mr.-T-in-your-pocket player in the world.” For a minute and a half, the keyboardist rhythmically plays a toy that repeats certain Mr. T phrases when one pushes certain buttons. After an amazingly deft use of the device’s preprogrammed features — creating new meaning for the term “lo-fi” — Mr. T (through Lawrence) ends the track simply: “First name: Mister. Middle name: Period. Last name: T.”
The strongest point of We Are Organ Yank is its variability. The classic Organ Yank aesthetic is definitely there, especially in songs such as “Saraswati,” “May I Have Some Flowers (For My Eunuch)” and “House Arrest.” But the band ventures into other territory, sometimes breaking down into quiet interludes right in the middle of fast-paced riffs. These never last terribly long, however, always starting back up again even more frantically.
However, sometimes that diversity backfires. For instance, Kamins’s switch from the classic dirty baritone saxophone tone in favor of the lighter soprano saxophone on songs like “Commencement” and “SOLT (Stratification of Lines by Means of Timbre)” is admirable but perhaps less effective than the band intended. The combination of such a pure-toned instrument with distorted guitar and keyboard sounds a bit out of place, particularly in the bass notes, as if the saxophone were a little lamb lost in the woods, the scene surrounding it alternating between a playful romp and a death-defying chase.
There is another major hole in this album that was unavoidable for Organ Yank, and the band should not carry the blame for its effect on the music. The absence of trombonist and Conservatory junior Corey Wilcox is indeed noticeable — particularly his unparalleled soloing abilities. Though the band cuts a good album without him, one must wonder what it could have sounded like if he had been there during its recording. We Are Organ Yank is dedicated to Wilcox, and the band does not take that lightly. Each song sounds as if each member is calling out to Wilcox through his instrument — the harmonic equivalent of that moment in the party when everyone realizes that the guy they all hoped would show up isn’t there.
Overall, despite Wilcox’s absence, the album triumphs, delivering diverse music that mixes genres into undiscovered concoctions. No song on this album illustrates this point more beautifully than “Balthazar (Hold Still),” the album closer. Beginning slowly, Cohen’s guitar and Kamins’s saxophone quietly weave a building melody along with Lawrence’s sparse bass tones and Stephens’s quiet but persistent drumming. As the song unfolds, the beat perseveres, allowing each member to contribute an increasing plethora of new perspectives on the melody. Such an opus is a fitting way to end such an eclectic album, and the driving melody permeated this reviewer’s consciousness well after the album was finished — as if the party never really ended.
Organ Yank Plays At The Feve
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Last night, the Feve hosted two sets of Organ Yank’s music and madness. Danny Kamins, Alex Cohen, A...Last night, the Feve hosted two sets of Organ Yank’s music and madness. Danny Kamins, Alex Cohen, Andrew Lawrence, and Tom Stephens laid down precise but wild tunes above Main Street.
Kamins started by pumping out a groove on the baritone saxophone. Within seconds, Stephens had joined in with a war beat on the drums, while Lawrence flipped out on the keyboards. Riffs from Cohen’s guitar sailed over this ocean of sound and groove.
Cohen’s fingers grew still as he called out, “I am a member of an angel race!” The band followed his lead, repeating the phrase. “I come from somewhere out in outer space!” Cohen again intoned–sans microphone–over the blast of the drums, keys and horn. The band flew into a brief bout of saxophone squealing, guitar screeching, fingers slamming and drum set blasting, before coming to an abrupt halt. After this, anything could happen.
Those who saw Organ Yank last year may have noticed the absence of Corey Wilcox, the band’s former trombone player, who is not in school this year. According to Kamins, “What happened with Corey–he left the band.” This is not the first change in lineup for Organ Yank. Originally, the band featured Will Mason on the drums; after Mason left the band, Tom Stephens stepped in to fill his spot.
Organ Yank is characterized by this kind of unpredictability. From the abstract introduction burst forth a driving funk tune over which Cohen sculpted a wondrous blues solo. “Blues is what taught me how to improvise,” Cohen told me after the show.
At the end of the second tune, Stephens, Lawrence and Cohen reached automatically for their beers. Kamins uttered the first of only a few addresses to the audience, “Can everyone hear everyone OK?” Yes, everyone could hear. One couldn’t help but hear. Though Kamins played the entire night without a microphone, the baritone sax was not only heard, but also physically felt. The vibrations cut right through the flesh and straight to the bone, where they would not be ignored.
The entire performance was punctuated with endlessly entertaining improvised sections, which often meandered to the point that a return to the theme was like waking from a dream. On occasion, Organ Yank tricked the audience, pausing just long enough that I thought the song was over, only to launch back in at the first hint of applause.
While there were no stage antics as extreme as last year’s human sacrifice, the music was anything but reserved. Kamins let loose with saxophone shrieks like monkeys interspersing more traditional playing, and at a couple points, Cohen took a screwdriver to the strings of his guitar, using first the head and then the handle as a slide. Lawrence’s keyboard sound ranged from a jazz organ to video game, horror film, and flying saucer effects.
To finish up the night, Organ Yank brought everyone back into the realm of the concrete with a straight-up blues jam. As happened periodically throughout the night, the lights flickered once or twice, prompting me to wonder if the Feve could really handle Organ Yank.
Organ Yank Plays Exciting Halloween
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Oberlin band Organ Yank delivered a solid performance to a large crowd on Halloween night, performin...Oberlin band Organ Yank delivered a solid performance to a large crowd on Halloween night, performing jazz-inspired pieces to the backdrop of Fairchild Chapel’s intimate interior.
Just past 9 p.m., the chapel’s pews — with some attendees dressed in costume — had already begun to fill to capacity. The stage, featuring decorations inspired by Dia de los Muertos, included small hanging skeletons, colorful tissue paper banners and black skulls.
As soon as the lights dimmed, the excited audience began to clap and stomp in anticipation of the band. Soon afterward, the members of Organ Yank made their way to the stage, playing percussive instruments and throwing candy into the audience.
True to the Halloween theme, each was dressed in costume as Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and a mariachi.
“We’d like to dedicate this song to Corey Wilcox,” said saxophonist and Conservatory senior Danny Kamins. The band then started a cover of the Mario theme song and was greeted with hoots and laughter from the crowd.
The rest of the performance that night proved that the costumes and Halloween fanfare belied Organ Yank’s serious approach to music.
Organ Yank consists entirely of Conservatory jazz students and alumni, including Kamins; Andrew Lawrence, a piano major who graduated last year; fourth-year guitarist Alex Cohen; third-year drummer Thomas Stephens; and the previously mentioned Wilcox, a trombonist who is not on campus this semester.
Lawrence described Organ Yank’s approach toward music as “[bridging] the gap between pop music and art music.” To them, agreed the rest of the band, there are no genres.
About a third of each piece was improvised, following the basic form of the song with elaborations and added solos. In creating a song, one member may come with an original version that is then tweaked by the entire band over three or four rehearsals.
As someone with little knowledge of jazz, I was impressed by both the command and subtlety of Organ Yank’s performance. Songs flowed from a controlled chaos to a smooth and melodious tone with incredible ease.
In addition to their original pieces, Organ Yank also performed a cover of Mr. Bungle’s “My Ass Is on Fire” as well as short interludes of music taken from Mario and related titles. The latter pieces’ evenness and melodiousness made for an interesting contrast to the rest of the set, which often toyed with frequently changing tempos, dynamics and dissonance.
The show moved smoothly for most of the night, but hit a brief stumbling block toward the end as the band stopped to call for their singer Tamara Fingal, who was not in the audience.
Fingal eventually arrived in time to perform powerful vocals for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” with the band, to which much of the audience stood and danced. Organ Yank’s show ended with Cohen and Lawrence, dressed as the Mario brothers, pretending to stab themselves with knives and staining their shirts with fake blood.
The members of Organ Yank proved able to perform sophisticated music without taking themselves too seriously. They gave an entertaining performance that, though accessible, demonstrated considerable skill.
When asked for any parting words, Lawrence mentioned the group’s currently available and forthcoming CDs. He finished with a simple, “Yank it or crank it.”
We can play anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours of original music. Covers include (but are not limited to) songs by:
There are no upcoming dates at this time.