Vital organist: Judd Nielsen says dancing is key to his keys

Organ-ic: Bedford-Stuyvesant organist Judd Nielsen will play a free show at BAM Cafe on Jan. 3.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

This guy is harvesting organs — for great grooves!

Brooklyn native Judd Nielsen will play his Hammond organ at his first performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Jan. 3. The concert will feature tracks from Nielsen’s new album, “Blossom Showers,” which he said is soulful music influenced by New Orleans, where he has spent some time and was inspired by the local musicians’ commitment to filling dance floors.

“Instead of trying to play to the head, they try to play to the soul, they’re trying to get you to dance — that influenced my style a lot,” said Nielsen, who grew up in Park Slope and now lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant. “Some people I think will be up, grooving a little bit.”

Nielsen, who took up the organ in high school, will share the stage with guitarist Solomon Hicks and drummer Austin Williamson. He said the trio’s sound is a mix of jazz and funk, partially inspired by his parents’ eclectic musical tastes, which he said included the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, and jazz classics. But he said the songs also have an upbeat, gospel vibe.

“It is like a style that would happen in a Baptist church — it is a very jumpy style, it is very recognizable,” said Nielsen.

But Nielsen said he also found inspiration from his native neighborhood, drawing from the reggae, gospel, and salsa music that provided the backdrop to his life growing up in New York.

“So much of the different cultures that are here that you just hear and get exposed to,” he said. “Since I’m from here, it is a very big part of my influence.”

Judd Nielsen at Brooklyn Academy of Music, BAMcafe [30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Place and St. Felix Street in Fort Greene, (718) 636–4100, www.bam.org] Jan. 3 at 9 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle‌@cngl‌ocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.
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