Paul Connors at Ossining’s Elks Lodge | Photo by Brian Kluepfel
Croton-on-Hudson jazz master Paul Connors is raising the roof and lifting spirits from an otherwise humble Ossining parking lot.
The Hammond B3 organ bespeaks Americana, from ballpark to church, smoky jazz clubs to beer-stained concert halls. You’ve heard it even if you don’t know it: “No Woman, No Cry,” “Green Onions,” Whipping Post,” are but a few tunes featuring its bedrock foot-pedal bass and top-end musette musings, a tonal universe spanning West Memphis to the Fillmore East.
Croton-on-Hudson’s Paul Connors, who grew up in Eastchester and Bronxville, inhabits these various musical worlds as easily as slipping on an old coat, commanding the intimidating array of levers and buttons of the 500-pound musical monster like Captain Kirk, flawlessly piloting his trio through classics by Jimmy Smith, The Meters, Louis Armstrong, Billy Preston, and even the Grateful Dead, without, as they say, missing a beat (thanks to longtime drummer John Doty).
You may know Connors from more commercial endeavors: His keyboard has graced TV ads for Nike and Banana Boat, as well as the soundtracks to Criminal Minds and Pawn Stars. He is currently director of the music program at The Storm King School, near West Point.
Much could be said of the mellow music teacher behind the keyboard as he directs the Thursday “Organ Groove” at the Ossining Elks Lodge, in a parking lot-turned-jazz grotto. But most of all, during the most worrisome days of 2020’s domestic strife and pandemic — Connors would launch into Horace Silver’s “Peace” and bring just that to an appreciative audience. “He creates space for other musicians to shine in their own right,” says Jazz at the Lodge curator John Codman III.
It’s the kind of elixir you just can’t get enough of during days like these.
The Hammond B3 organ bespeaks Americana, from ballpark to church, smoky jazz clubs to beer-stained concert halls.