Grooves & Samples #34: Klaus Wunderlich – Summertime (1971)

Grooves & Samples is a frequent dive into old dusty crates of jazz, funk, soul and beyond.

Many of us who frequently visit record fairs, flea markets and thrift shops, would easily recognize these titles from the dollar bins: Hammond Concerto, Golden Film Hits, Polka Pops, Golden Hammond Hits. And a lot of us would just as easy skip them.

These records with cover versions, potpourri hit mixes and medleys, are often -at their best- cheesy. This is also the case with most of the releases from German hammond organ player Klaus Wunderlich, who released the aforementioned titles – among a few hundred others. But, as the true digger would recognize, there are a few hidden gems.

Klaus Wunderlich, born in the East German city of Chemnitz, started playing the piano at the age of seven. In his twenties he heard the hammond organ: “the new sound” and the hammond organ could “imitate all string instruments, if one wished”, according to Klaus. After a few years of playing in bar trios, audiences flocked because of Klaus’ pop and jazz interpretations of operetta to Glenn Miller to hitparade records. A warm welcome in post-war communist East Germany.

He later experimented with MOOG and WERSi organs and filled a jam packed Royal Albert Hall in London. Klaus, who always stayed humble and friendly, became a household name and sold over 20 millions records and received 13 golden record and a golden casette.

In 1975 Klaus recorded his –of course- instrumental version of Lynsey de Paul’s 1972 hit single “Sugar Me“. The record’s intro as well as the drum break have been sampled by British producers Wiseguys, Aim, and for the J Dilla produced track “Certified” by Guru and Bilal off Jazzmatazz (Streetsoul).

Personally, I dig Klaus’ “Summertime” cover even more. His 1971 version of the Gershwin evergreen tune sets in with a funky drum and hammond intro to set into a quite spacious version of the “Porgy and Bess” classic. Triphop pioneer Howie B, Dutch rapper Extince, and Freddie Cruger thought the exact same thing. So, never pass on the dollar bin. Keep diggin’.

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