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 organ and drums (either Greg Hutchinson or Fukushi Tainaka). Bernstein's intricate lead guitar and, especially, Jones' funky rhythm add an extra flavor to the set of mostly original Smith tunes.
Together, the quartet traces the many varieties of soul jazz from the Crescent City groove of the opening "Norleans" to the sultry blues of the title tune and the down-home funk of "Your Mama's Got a Complex." While this is a mostly heated affair, Smith cools things down on two ballads: a mild reading of Horace Silver's "Silver Serenade" and a breezy take on "Someday My Prince Will Come." This is a fun, funky album that solidifies Smith's status as one of the true heroes of the Hammond.
Track Listing: Norleans; Too Damn Hot; Back Track; The Whip; Silver Serenade; One Cylinder; Someday My Prince Will
Come; Your Mama's Got a Complex; Evil Turn.
Personnel: Dr. Lonnie Smith, organ; Peter Bernstein, guitar; Rodney Jones, ryhthm guitar; Greg Hutchinson, drums;
Fukushi Tainaka, drums.
I love jazz because it swings.
I was first exposed to jazz in Houston.
I met Joe LoCascio and Bob Henschen.
The best show I ever attended was Pat Martino.
The first jazz record I bought was Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
My advice to new listeners is to relax on 2 and 4 beats.