Gene Ludwig

Gene Ludwig

BandJazz

Pittsburgh native Gene Ludwig has played with the best and has been in the game for ages. A tasty player, clearly of the Jack McDuff/Jimmy Smith school of the Hammond B-3, he is probably one of the cleanest and most refined players on the scene today... and well respected by his colleagues.

Biography

www.geneludwig.com

Some say he stole the show that night... the fella from Pittsburgh who showed up late that afternoon, missing the sound check and sort of looking like anyone's junior high math teacher as he strolled around backstage at the 1994 Newark Jazz Organ Jam waiting for his turn to play. As I introduced myself to him, I remember his hands being huge, reminding me of what a bricklayer's hands might be like: long, thick fingers and wide palms. I had looked forward to meeting Gene Ludwig in person. I was trying so hard to be impartial as I listened to each organist who played that night but deep down I, too, felt that
Gene grooved harder than the others... I really do love everybody that sits at that bench... no matter who they are or what kind of music they play... but somehow, those who reach the audience quicker and with the most passion, leave me with the more lasting impression. It didn't take me long to figure out what Gene did to that crowd that night to get the response that he got and win over so many new fans: HE PLAYED THE BLUES... That's what those folks came to hear. They wanted to be taken back in time to the old days of the 'Organ Rooms' where every club had a B-3 on the stage and smokey, inner city soul jazz was the gravy of life. When Gene kicked off with Jimmy Smith's 'The Sermon', he was telling that crowd that there's still truth in this music... it hasn't left us and never will... and more importantly, he wasn't afraid to play Jimmy's sound. As an admitted disciple, he was reminding us just how important this is to us all. Gene Ludwig has always been that kind of a player. He knows where he came from and how he got where he is... no frills, nothing pretentious... just SOLID ORGAN GROOVE... That's Gene Ludwig.

Gene was born in Twin Rocks, Pennsylvania on September 4, 1937. Four years later his family moved to Swissvale where Gene spent most of his youth and graduated from Swissvale High in 1955. His mother provided young Gene with piano lessons as early as the first grade and witnessed his musical growth from then on. She would have preferred that he became a concert pianist but soon realized that his musical preference lay in Rhythm and Blues. After two years at Edinboro State Teachers College and a series of jobs, he was ready to make a life long commitment. He had spent many a night watching and listening to musicians like Ramsey Lewis, Horace Silver, Ahmad Jamal and Ray Bryant at Crawford's Grill and the Hi-Hat but when he experienced Jimmy Smith for the first time his mind was made up. "From '43 to about '55, I took formal training on piano", recounts Gene, "Around '57 I met Jimmy Smith and heard the Hammond...and I knew that's what I wanted to be: a Hammond organ player". Gene saw Jimmy at Pittsburgh's famous Hurricane owned by Birdie Dunlap- truly a mecca for the Jazz Organ Sound. Gene was bit by the bug before he had a chance to know what it was all about. "Around 1949, 1950, I used to hear swing organ on the air and it happened to be Bill Davis and Bill Doggett...but all I had heard was the big, full, block chords and I was into piano and (then) when I heard Jimmy playing on the air, he was playing single lines like a piano player or like a horn and I said, 'Oh wow! ... This is amazing' and then when I first saw him play and I heard him live, my God, it was awesome, it was really awesome".
Gene's first Jazz Organ Combo was led by tenor saxophonist, Sonny Stanton. They gigged around town in places like, the Hi-Hat on the Northside, Mason's in the Hill, Tropics in Braddock and Dave's Walnut Inn in McKeesport. They traveled to Cleveland before Gene switched to another quartet led by Gene Barr. This group ventured out even further going to St. Louis, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Buffalo. By this time, Gene's musical career was firmly rooted in the organ genre. "Once I started playing organ, that was about 1958, I sort of shied away from the piano because I wanted to put all my efforts into the organ and for all of, I'd say, twenty or twenty-five years, my main forte was the organ up until about ten years ago". Making the switch from piano to organ was easy for Gene. "Originally, I started out on an M-100 which is like a spinet Hammond and the left hand bass left a lot to be desired...so I had to play the little cluster of pedals there, thirteen pedals, just an octave. That's where I weaned myself until I got to a bigger organ; then I got to a much bigger, broader, fuller sound...and it didn't take too much coordination, I just sort of naturally fell into it". Gene, like so many others was forced to take piano gigs and play synthesizers during the eighties just to survive. It's almost as if many of the great jazz organists from that era have come around full circle in their playing. "I've become very comfortable with piano now", says Gene. He, like Shirley Scott and others, can now be commercially successful with both instruments. Back in 1962, however, the most imp

Discography

45 RPM

MR. FINK (BLUES FOR MR. FINK) - 1960
GOSPEL GOODNESS - 1962
STICKS AND STONES (parts 1 & 2) - 1963
WALK ON THE WILDSIDE - 1964
BIRDIE'S BLUES - 1964
HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN - 1964
MY BLUE HEAVEN - 1965
THE VAMP - 1965
BLUE FLAME - 1966
SOUL MOUNTAIN - 1966
MOTHER BLUES - 1967
MY WAY (parts 1 & 2) - 1971
THE STREET PREACHER (parts 1 & 2) - 1987

CASSETTE

BLUES AND MORE - 1982

ALBUMS

ORGAN OUT LOUD - 1964
THIS IS GENE LUDWIG - 1965
THE EDUCATED SOUND OF GENE LUDWIG - 1965
HOT ORGAN - 1966 (repackage of ORGAN OUT LOUD)
NOW’S THE TIME - 1979

CD’S

BACK ON THE TRACK - 1998
SOUL SERENADE - 2000
THE GROOVE ORGANIZATION - 2002
HANDS ON - 2003
GENE LUDWIG - LIVE IN LAS VEGAS – 2006
DUFF’S BLUES:LIVE FROM THE ZOELLNER ARTS CENTER - 2008

RECORDED WITH OTHER ARTISTS

NIGHT LETTER (WITH SONNY STITT) - 1969
FRONT (WITH RANDY CALDWELL) - 1998
DIAMONDS AND SAUSAGES (WITH SHAWNEE LAKE) - 1999
WALKING THE WALK-THE SERIOUS SAXAPHONE OF HOSEA TAYLOR
(WITH HOSEA TAYLOR) - 2000
KEEP THAT GROOVE GOING (WITH PLAS JOHNSON & RED HOLLOWAY) - 2001
DeVOS GROOVE GUITAR (WITH BOB DeVOS) - 2003
INDUBITABLY QUINTESSENTIAL (WITH HOSEA TAYLOR) - 2003
WHAT'S NEW (WITH JIMMY PONDER) - 2005
TEA FOR TWO (WITH CECIL BROOKS III) - 2006
SYNESTHESIA (WITH HOSEA TAYLOR) - 2006
WORRY NO MORE (WITH JARED WILSON) - 2007
ACROSS THE TRACKS (WITH SCOTT HAMILTON) - 2008

Set List

Mostly straight ahead jazz and blues standards with a few originals. Sets are usually 60-75 minutes, with enough music for up to three sets in one performance. Standards are a mix of funk, ballads, bosa nova, rhythm and blues.