Riding on the crest of a revival of interest in the Hammond B3 organ, Rhode Island native Lonnie Gasperini's Turn up the Gas emphasizes the jazz/soul/funk (with a bit of bop thrown in) qualities of the instrument while performing a musical program of standards and originals. Gasperini has performed with a large roster of top jazz performers including Dr. Lonnie Smith who clearly influenced him. Gasperini is joined by a set of performers who are eye to eye with his approach to the music. There's the rough edged baritone sax of Art Hazard, the blues guitar of Broc Dechristopher and percussionist Mark Teixeira all of whom are heard frequently on this album. Appearing on several tracks, Lavern Sims provides entertaining vocals along the way. She ends "Making Whoopie" with some sassy jive a la the inimitable Pearl Bailey. She can also do a credible job with a ballad as she displays on "You've Changed" and scat mightily on "Lullaby of Birdland". The kickoff tune "Lonnie's Blues" sets the stage for the instrumentals, with Gasperini running the table on the organ, Hazard honking away on the baritone sax and the blues guitar of Dechristopher all sharing choruses. They truly cook. Gasperini also is no slouch with the composing pen. Sims does a heart felt vocal on his "This Must Be Love" which features an earnest guitar interlude by Dechristopher. The tide turns from funk to hard bop on "Organic Manic" again recalling some of the work of Dr. Lonnie Smith with Hazard playing Smith's Ronnie Cuber.
Gasperini carefully avoids taking advantage of his powerful instrument to dominate the session, which usually turns off the listener in the process. He allows all his cohorts equal time to show their wares, and perhaps more than equal time for Sims. The result is a balanced, full album of soul/jazz inflected performances which is recommended. Hopefully we'll be hearing more from Mr. Gasperini in the not too distant future. Recommended. Visit Gasperini's web page at www.geocities.com/lonniegasperini.
Track Listing: Lonnie's Blues; Making Whoopie*; Just Friends; Sweet Georgia Brown*; Little Suede Shoes; Sissy Strut; Rhythm-a-Ning; You've Changed*; Lullaby of Birdland; Organic Manic; This Must be Love*; We'll Be Together Again
Personnel: Lonnie Gasperini - Hammond B3 organ; Lavern Sims - Vocals*; Art Hazard - Baritone Sax; Broc Dechristopher - Electric Guitar; Mark Teixeira - Percussion