All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

9

Dr. Lonnie Smith: Evolution

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Artist repatriation seems to be something of a theme in the Don Was era of Blue Note Records. In 2013 there was the return of saxophonist Wayne Shorter, a jazz giant who delivered many of his landmark '60s albums on this storied imprint. Then, in 2015, Charles Lloyd left ECM for Blue Note, a label that had previously held one Lloyd album in its portfolio. Now, as 2016 arrives, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith returns to the fold.

Evolution is Smith's first album for Blue Note in forty-five years, and it's a real humdinger. Everything we've come to expect from him, included the unexpected, is here. The album is populated with raunchy riffs, greasy grooves, soulful sermons, tidal organ shifts, moody statements, hard-hitting solos, and punchy interjections, all of which help to enliven throwback songs, standards, and new pieces alike. This is past, present, and future Smith rolled into one.

The album kicks off with "Play It Back," a funky number from Smith's Live At Club Mozambique (Blue Note, recorded 1970/released 1995). Double drumming from the likes of Johnathan Blake and Joe Dyson underscores the music, setting a foundation for soloist after soloist to build upon; Robert Glasper, making his lone guest appearance on the album, hits it out of the park when he steps to the plate; the horns sound hot, whether riffing together or taking to the spotlight as individuals; and the good doctor does what he does best. Smith follows that up by inviting Joe Lovano into the picture to reprise his role on "Afrodesia." Lovano originally recorded the song with Smith some forty years ago, working his magic with his tenor. Here he turns to his G mezzo soprano saxophone, delivering the goods on this grounded groove number. Then, for good measure, Lovano brings out his main ax on "For Heaven's Sake," a balladic mood painting that stands as gentle contrast to the majority of the material on the playlist.

The remaining four tracks are split evenly between new originals and standards. That first category includes "Talk About This," a funky number with a hard-hitting solo from trumpeter Maurice Brown, and "African Suite," which stands apart thanks to John Ellis' flute work and some Afrocentric accents and underpinnings. The standards—"Straight No Chaser" and "My Favorite Things," both delivered by the trio of Smith, Blake, and guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg—prove to be fiery and forward-thinking. The former is a take-no-prisoners performance that's set aflame by the spark of life. And the latter? It's a piece that's full of surprises. It emerges from uncertainty, departs into the shadows, and emits power and potency from its core. It takes tremendous creativity to pull a rabbit out of the hat on such a well worn piece, and this trio has that and then some.

Dr. Lonnie Smith left Blue Note as a young man, but he returns as a sagacious elder. The wisdom he's gained in the intervening years is parceled out in his every gesture, flourish, and note. Evolution is but a single album, yet it speaks to a lifetime of music making from one of our most treasured organists.

Track Listing: Play It Back' Afrodesia; For Heaven's Sake; Straight No Chaser; Talk About This; My Favorite Things; African Suite.

Personnel: Dr. Lonnie Smith: Hammond B-3 organ, keyboards (6, 7); Robert Glasper: piano (1); Joe Lovano: G mezzo soprano saxophone (2), tenor saxophone (3); Johnathan Blake: drums; Joe Dyson: drums (1-3, 5, 7); Jonathan Kreisberg: guitar; Keyon Harrold: trumpet (1); Maurice Brown: trumpet (2, 3, 5); John Ellis: tenor saxophone (1, 2, 5), bass clarinet: (3), flute (7);

Title: Evolution | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Fearless And Kind CD/LP/Track Review
Fearless And Kind
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 14, 2018
Read 25th Anniversary Project CD/LP/Track Review
25th Anniversary Project
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Any Day Now CD/LP/Track Review
Any Day Now
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Adrift CD/LP/Track Review
Adrift
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Folkjazz from Finland CD/LP/Track Review
Folkjazz from Finland
by Anthony Shaw
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Circulate Susanna CD/LP/Track Review
Circulate Susanna
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 13, 2018
Read "Inspiration" CD/LP/Track Review Inspiration
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 8, 2018
Read "Music in My Mind" CD/LP/Track Review Music in My Mind
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 29, 2018
Read "North Greenbush Blues" CD/LP/Track Review North Greenbush Blues
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 31, 2018
Read "Waiting For The Sun 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" CD/LP/Track Review Waiting For The Sun 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: October 27, 2018
Read "One Night at Morey's: 1968" CD/LP/Track Review One Night at Morey's: 1968
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 10, 2018
Read "Presence" CD/LP/Track Review Presence
by Patrick Burnette
Published: October 3, 2018