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Dr. Lonnie Smith: Dr. Lonnie Smith Octet - In The Beginning, Volumes 1 & 2

C. Michael Bailey By

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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 not Jimmy Smith or Big Big John Patton. 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.

Title: Dr. Lonnie Smith Octet - In The Beginning, Volumes 1 & 2 | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Pilgrimage Productions

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