How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
B-3 specialist Dr. Lonnie Smith retools a dozen original compositions from early in his career and performs them live with an octet on In The Beginning, Volumes 1 & 2. Drawing material from his recordings, Finger-Lickin' Good (Columbia, 1966), Think! (Blue Note, 1968), Turning Point (Blue Note, 1969) and Move Your Hand (Blue Note, 1969), Smith, with the help of saxophonist Ian Hendrickson-Smith
. While Smith's music is informed by the blues, it is ultimately a broader taste test of genre when compared with those and other organists. Smith mixes rhythms like a mad, but gifted, alchemist, crossing Latin and African rhythms with the Far East and Western Europe. While "Falling In Love" is a pastoral rave-up featuring Ed Cherry
's James-Brown- funk-laden guitar and "Turning Point" smacks of Stan Kenton on a bender, "In The Beginning" takes on an almost classical flair.
While this music is dated, its updating is timeless. These tunes are a snapshot of a progressive period in jazz where the old gave way to the new. Smith made these transitions thoughtfully, acting as much as the keeper of the flame and a future firebrand, with his creative eyes in both directions. The octet for this occasion fully fleshes out the music giving it a defined, three-dimensions.
Track Listing: CD1: Falling In Love; Aw Shucks; Move Your Hand; Turning Point; In The
Beginning; Mama Wailer/Hola Muneca Medley. CD2: Keep Talkin’;
Psychedelic Pi; Slow High; Call of the Wild; Slouchin’; Track Nine.
Personnel: Dr. Lonnie Smith: Hammond B-3 organ, vocals; Ed Cherry: guitar;
Jonathan Blake: drums; Little Johnny Rivero: congas; Andy Gravish:
trumpet; Ian Hendrickson-Smith: alto saxophone, flute; John Ellis:
tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Jason Marshall: baritone saxophone.