“Piano’s great,” Gregory Lewis says. “But the organ—I don’t want to say it’s better, but it’s just different. You have more power and control, and I do like to be in control when I’m playing.”
Lewis, a New York–based keyboardist and composer, is both one of the modern jazz masters of the Hammond B-3 organ and a Thelonious Monk specialist. His latest release—Organ Monk Blue, a trio with guitarist Marc Ribot and drummer Jeremy Clemons—is one of four albums on which he finds his own voice within Monk’s music. Like many B-3 players, he learned to play piano before taking up the organ. He got serious about the Hammond while studying at the New School in New York and likens the process of transferring his keyboard skills to the instrument to learning to drive a stick shift.