Saratoga Performing Arts Center Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival Saratoga Springs, NY June 28-29, 2014 Perfect weather accented this years Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival, an event that had an eclectic mix of young musicians with interesting ideas and approaches, and veterans who deliver consistently. The weather is always a factor because it's primarily an outdoor festival for two days, on two stages, at the beautiful Saratoga Performing Arts Center. (There is some covered amphitheater seating). But the most important ingredient, naturally, is what the array of artists bring to the table. Those assembled this ...read more
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, cast this music against the rich palette of a horn-heavy little-big band. On these recordings, what Smith proves is that he is the master of his corner of the organ jazz universe. He is ...read more
Dr. Lonnie Smith-organist, composer, bandleader and now principal of Pilgrimage Records-is the Cheshire cat of jazz. He's been part of the scene for so long that, even though he's there, he sometimes disappears from view; when you do get a glimpse, the last thing you see and the first thing you remember is his warm and wise Buddha smile. Dr. Lonnie Smith smiles like he knows that he knows something that most people don't even know that they don't know.Born in Buffalo, New York, Dr. Smith's house and family life were full of music, including and especially singing. ...read more
Dr. Lonnie Smith has always addressed organ traditions on his own terms. He seems to intentionally avoid clichés and marketplace trends, preferring instead to chart his own course, so it's beautifully ironic that he's become something of a trendy figure-to-follow for the jazz-meets-jam crowd. While Smith recently attained septuagenarian status, he shows no signs of developing a conservative crust or going musically gentle into that good night. The Healer, culled from material recorded at the 2011 Lamantin Jazz Festival in Hungary and a date at New York's Jazz Standard in early 2012, is brimming with the bold, bizarre and beautiful.read more
Vitality and age might be normally be at odds with one another, but not when discussing Dr. Lonnie Smith--the inimitable organ shaman of the modern soul-jazz epoch. Whether turning in clever takes on the music of indie rocker Beck, recasting familiar standards in his organic organ mold or shaping his own compositions to his liking, Smith never seems to be short on ideas. He furthers the traditional role of the organ in small-group jazz and puts a modern slant on things, giving the music a unique character that is also immediately accessible. After meeting with some creative ...read more
For a half-century the incomparable Dr. Lonnie Smith has been a prime mover on the organ, an instrument he has called, paradoxically, the monster" and the love of my life." Rise Up! is a gumbo of originals and covers spiced with generous helpings of rhythm and blues, rock and gospel. Smith's A Matterapat" showcases Donald Harrison's sharp alto sax and Peter Bernstein's feathery guitar riffs, with Smith's organ going straight to the gut. Tyrone" is a New Orleans strut that Smith and Harrison play in deep blue shades. The dark, simmering brew of Voodoo Doll" finds Smith ...read more
When the Hammond B-3 organ enjoyed a revival several years ago, few came out the better for it. The old guys either repeated or tried to recapture what they'd done before and too few of the new guys had anything new to say. But then there was Lonnie Smith.
This veteran of '60s organ combos, the genre's golden age, quietly returned to the scene in the early '90s, sporting a turban and a new prefix to his name. He seemed reborn, he wasn't regurgitating what he'd done like so many of the others. He was working a whole ...read more
Rise Up! is Dr. Lonnie Smith's third release for Palmetto Records and a welcome addition to the organist's rich recorded legacy. Since bursting onto the scene as a member of George Benson's quartet in the 1960s, the Buffalo native has been an unrelenting force on the Hammond B3. Joined here by alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Herlin Riley, Smith offers up a listener-friendly set of originals and pop covers.
Smith is known for dispensing heavy doses of soulful grease and this record does not disappoint. Rise Up! is a deep-in-the-groove session with enough funk to keep ...read more
[Editor's Note: Mikayla's Totally Jazzed is a new column that will feature artist interviews and thoughts on jazz by saxophonist/student Mikayla Gilbreath. Despite her young age, she's managed to connect with a surprising number of well-known musicians, hosting a pre-concert reception at Sonny Rollins' 50th Anniversary Carnegie Hall Concert in 2007 that was attended by artists including Jimmy Heath, Lou Donaldson, Paquito D' Rivera, Joe Lovano, David Liebman, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Marion Meadows. At fourteen she's already a confirmed jazz lover and surprisingly accomplished musician, and while one goal of this column is to reach out to youth and ...read more
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Marking the beginning of the home stretch, Day Eight of the TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival was yet another lesson in diversity and the need for open-mindedness when it comes to accepting the broader spectrum that jazz has become. Yet, as demonstrated by the performances of organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, P.J. Perry (one of Canada's foremost reedmen), and oudist/vocalist Dhafer Youssef, there were other lessons ...read more
Hammond B-3 master Dr. Lonnie Smith returns with a soulful, funky session of straight-ahead grooves and smoldering moods on Jungle Soul. After a series of focused tributes to individual musicians (John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix and Beck, respectively), this release finds the good doctor drawing from classic and original source material for an enjoyable theme ride through the proverbial dark continent.
Joined by a stripped-down organ combo lineup of guitar and drums, Smith charts a course of smoldering intensity. Guitarist Peter Bernstein works with Palmetto Records producer Matt Balitsaris, who plays rhythm and acoustic guitar here. Both players hold ...read more
Reaching down deep inside and interpreting ten pieces with moving feeling, Dr. Lonnie Smith leads his trio through a program filled with soulful emotion on Jungle Soul.
Jungle Soul lets the good doctor turn it loose. He's subtle, and yet he's got a groove going on. Organ, guitar drums and percussion lead the way as we journey through exotic lands. Similarly, Zimbabwe charts a course for excitement and adventure, but with a faster, driving ambience, as Smith's trio brings impressions from distant places. Witch Doctor comes equipped with a laid-back rhythmic groove that calls for soulful meditation, while ...read more
The formidable doctor of organ jazz has been recording under his own name for almost forty years. His title is not an academic or medical recognition but rather a nod from his fellow musicians that acknowledge his ability to doctor" the music. This is The Turbanator's first release under the Palmetto banner and he gets off to a positive start.
The future of the soul jazz organ trio remains in good hands at a time when many of the first generation practitioners of this sub-genre are either deceased or inactive. The organ-guitar-drum combo presented here is really a ...read more
I'm not sure where his doctorate or trademark turban come from, but there's no doubting Dr. Lonnie Smith's credentials when it comes to scorching soul jazz organ. From his landmark '60s turns with George Benson and Lou Donaldson (with whom he still appears regularly) to last year's surprising album of Beck tunes, Smith has proven himself a master at the Hammond organ and an artist always worth watching. On his current release, the aptly titled Too Damn Hot! , Smith spices up the standard organ trio with two fiery guitarists (Peter Bernstein and Rodney Jones) in addition to ...read more
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