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Jazz - Released March 26, 2021 | Blue Note Records

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With 2016's Evolution, Dr. Lonnie Smith had put out a pretty flamboyant comeback. The last time the name of this unusual doctor graced the cover of a Blue Note album was forty-five years ago... It was on this famous label, first as a sideman to Lou Donaldson and then as a leader, that this master of the Hammond B-3 organ made a name for himself in the late 1960s. In 2018, he followed up with All in My Mind, a live album recorded at the Jazz Standard in New York with guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Johnathan Blake. It's the same team and the same concert hall for this release, Breathe. In addition to his two faithful accomplices, this time the good old Doc develops his unique groove in a septet, with saxophonists John Ellis and Jason Marshall, trumpeter Sean Jones and trombonist Robin Eubanks. As the cherry on this groovy cake, he even hands the microphone to singer Alicia Olatuja and unexpectedly and most notably, to Iggy Pop! The Iguana, who is more and more fond of playing the crooner as he ages, launches into in a suave version of Timmy Thomas's Why Can't We Live Together, and an equally inspired cover of Donovan's psychedelic Sunshine Superman. Delicious. © Max Dembo / Qobuz
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Jazz - Released January 12, 2018 | Blue Note Records

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With 2016's Evolution, Dr. Lonnie Smith made a flamboyant comeback. The last time the doctor's name graced a Blue Note album was 45 years ago… It was on this famous label, as a sideman to Lou Donaldson (Alligator Bogaloo, Mr. Shing-A-Ling, Midnight Creeper), and then as a band leader (Think!, Turning Point, Move Your Hand, Drives and Live At Club Mozambique) that this master of the Hammond B-3 made a name for himself in the late 1960s, proving that Jimmy Smith wasn't the only one who knew how to tame an electric keyboard... Brilliant and groovy as ever despite the years that have passed, Doc has brought us a live album recorded at New York's Jazz Standard at a concert to mark the 75th anniversary. Smith himself describes the live version as essential: "It is so hard to get across what you're feeling in the moment when you're recording in the studio. Listening to my concerts, it’s like catching me playing in the moment. I like that idea." With guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Johnathan Blake, the trio form a close-knit fraternity. "My musicians know what I'm trying to do, and they develop my thoughts. When I play, I am always in the moment. They know how to adapt and be there for me." From the famous Juju by Wayne Shorter to Paul Simon's 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (with Joe Dyson as a second drummer), the organist revisits an exceptionally eclectic repertoire while still retaining his own style. Time has hardly left a mark on Dr. Lonnie Smith's groove or his sense of swing; he is throwing off some real sparks here throughout this bubbling, visceral record. © CM/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released January 29, 2016 | Blue Note (BLU)

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The last time the name Lonnie Smith graced a pocket of a Blue Note album was 45 years ago ... It is also this famous label, first as the sideman of Lou Donaldson (Alligator Bogaloo, Mr. Shing-A-Ling, Midnight Creeper), then as leader (Think!, Turning Point, Move Your Hand, Drives and Live At Club Mozambique) that the master of the Hammond B-3 organ made his name in the late 60s, proving that it was not ONLY Jimmy Smith who could make a keyboard sing. With Evolution, the Doc has made an unexpected but brilliant (and groovy) comeback, in which he notably invited pianist Robert Glasper and saxophonist Joe Lovano (whom also debuted in 1975 as sideman to Jimmy Smith for the album Afrodesia!) - high-level reinforcements to say the least. © CM / Qobuz
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Blue Note Records

Most Blue Note soul-jazz albums from the late '60s went one of three ways: it either was a straight-ahead commercial session, a slightly psychedelic outing, or a funky workout with a vague "Black Power" theme. Dr. Lonnie Smith had followed the latter path with Think!, the predecessor to Turning Point, and there are still remnants of that style on this session, particularly in the opening cover of Don Covay's "See Saw." Nevertheless, Turning Point is a more adventurous affair than Think!, finding Smith -- as well as trumpeter Lee Morgan, trombonist Julian Priester, guitarist Melvin Sparks, tenor saxophonist Bennie Maupin and drummer Leo Morris -- exploring territory that isn't quite free, but is certainly more "out there" than the average soul-jazz session. In particular, Smith's originals "Slow High" and "Turning Point" reach the outer edges of the style, playing with dissonance, complex melodies and expansive sound structures. Despite all these free flourishes, Turning Point remains a soul-jazz record and it has all the trappings of its era -- the take on "Eleanor Rigby" finds the group approximating psychedelia. While the more adventurous elements of Turning Point make for an intriguing listen, the album isn't quite as enjoyable as the harder grooving sessions or the spacier soul-jazz records from the same era. Nevertheless, it's a worthwhile listen. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Jazz - Released November 7, 2014 | Palmetto Records

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Jazz - Released November 7, 2014 | Palmetto Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1995 | Blue Note Records

Recorded on May 21, 1970, at Detroit's Club Mozambique, this was shelved and remained unreleased until it was retrieved for CD issue in 1995. It's odd that Blue Note decided to sit on it for so long, because it ranks as one of Lonnie's better sets. The band, featuring George Benson on guitar, is relaxed and funky without being in your face about it, and unlike much soul-jazz of the time, most of the material is original, Smith having penned six of the eight numbers. Although the riffs often owe a lot to James Brown, this is definitely at least as much jazz as soul, with Lonnie taking a rare vocal turn on "Peace of Mind." © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Jazz - Released November 7, 2014 | Palmetto Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2003 | Blue Note Records

Think!, organist Lonnie Smith's 1968 sophomore effort (and first for Blue Note), is easily one of the strongest dates the Hammond B-3 master would produce for the label. Featuring a stellar group of musicians including trumpeter Lee Morgan, tenor saxophonist David Newman, guitarist Melvin Sparks, and drummer Marion Booker, Jr., as well as a three-member Afro-Latin percussion unit led by Henry "Pucho" Brown, Think! is a perfect mix of funky soul and forward-thinking jazz. Kicking things off with Hugh Masekela's instantly memorable "Son of Ice Bag," both Sparks and Newman take searching funk-flow solos while Morgan seems to be remembering a certain Masekela lick he dug. Similarly expansive is the epic and frenetic Afro bliss-out "The Call of the Wild," which finds Newman in a heady, bluesy organ jam freak-out set against "Pucho" Brown's torrid Latin rhythms and Sparks' nasty repeto-funk guitar riff. By the time you get to the title track and realize "Oh, it's that "Think," all you can do is laugh at the utter hipness of it all and take pleasure in the notion that the album is only half over. [The Rudy Van Gelder Edition of Think! features remastered sound by original producer Van Gelder, significantly improving the overall sound quality over the original release.] © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released November 7, 2014 | Palmetto Records

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Soul - Released July 2, 2012 | LRC Ltd. - Groove Merchant Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1996 | Blue Note Records

Move Your Hand was recorded live at Club Harlem in Atlantic City on August 9, 1969. Organist Lonnie Smith led a small combo -- featuring guitarist Larry McGee, tenor saxist Rudy Jones, bari saxist Ronnie Cuber, and drummer Sylvester Goshay -- through a set that alternated originals with two pop covers, the Coasters' "Charlie Brown" and Donovan's "Sunshine Superman." Throughout, the band works a relaxed, bluesy, and, above all, funky rhythm; they abandon improvisation and melody for a steady groove, so much that the hooks of the two pop hits aren't recognizable until a few minutes into the track. No one player stands out, but Move Your Hand is thoroughly enjoyable, primarily because the group never lets their momentum sag throughout the session. Though the sound of the record might be somewhat dated, the essential funk of the album remains vital. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Jazz - Released November 2, 2009 | Criss Cross Jazz

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Jazz - Released March 3, 2021 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released March 26, 2021 | Blue Note Records

With 2016's Evolution, Dr. Lonnie Smith had put out a pretty flamboyant comeback. The last time the name of this unusual doctor graced the cover of a Blue Note album was forty-five years ago... It was on this famous label, first as a sideman to Lou Donaldson and then as a leader, that this master of the Hammond B-3 organ made a name for himself in the late 1960s. In 2018, he followed up with All in My Mind, a live album recorded at the Jazz Standard in New York with guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Johnathan Blake. It's the same team and the same concert hall for this release, Breathe. In addition to his two faithful accomplices, this time the good old Doc develops his unique groove in a septet, with saxophonists John Ellis and Jason Marshall, trumpeter Sean Jones and trombonist Robin Eubanks. As the cherry on this groovy cake, he even hands the microphone to singer Alicia Olatuja and unexpectedly and most notably, to Iggy Pop! The Iguana, who is more and more fond of playing the crooner as he ages, launches into in a suave version of Timmy Thomas's Why Can't We Live Together, and an equally inspired cover of Donovan's psychedelic Sunshine Superman. Delicious. © Max Dembo / Qobuz
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1970 | Blue Note Records

Lonnie Smith had the raw skills, imagination, and versatility to play burning originals, bluesy covers of R&B and pop, or skillful adaptations of conventional jazz pieces and show tunes. Why he never established himself as a consistent performer remains a mystery, but this 1970 reissue shows why he excited so many people during his rise. Smith's solos on "Spinning Wheel" and his own composition, "Psychedelic PI," are fleet and furious, boosting the songs from interesting to arresting. He's also impressive on "Seven Steps to Heaven," while the array of phrases, rhythms, and voicings on "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" demonstrate a mastery of the organ's pedals and keys rivaling that of the instrument's king, Jimmy Smith. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 5, 2018 | JOC Records

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Jazz - Released January 12, 2018 | Blue Note (BLU)

Recorded during his 75th birthday celebration at the Jazz Standard in New York City, All in My Mind follows B-3 boss Dr. Lonnie Smith's acclaimed 2016 release, Evolution, which marked his return to Blue Note Records. Again unobtrusively produced by label boss Don Was, the seven-track set places the great organist in the company of his working trio with guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Jonathan Blake. In addition, drummer Joe Dyson and vocalist Alicia Olatuja appear on a track each. The program, like Smith's best Blue Note work from the days of yore (1968-1970), is wildly diverse. It opens with a cooking read of Wayne Shorter's classic modal composition "Juju." Smith's Hammond B-3 goes deep beneath the surface structure of the tune to reveal the subtle colors and tones inherent in the original melody, Kreisberg highlights them with slippery grace and shifting arpeggios, and Blake drives the strident yet mysterious groove with tasty breaks and fills. Smith's labyrinthine solo builds on the changes to balance groove and keyboard pyrotechnics. Another highlight is the nine-and-a-half-minute version of Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover." Commencing as a slow burn with Kreisberg stating the melody and guest Dyson relying heavily on funky, syncopated breaks, Smith's entry offers subdued tonal shades in the changes until the refrain, when the trio shifts gears toward improvisation, carrying the tune into previously unknown regions. Smith's trio displays its elegant chops and close camaraderie on a sultry, lyrical read of Tadd Dameron's classic "On a Misty Night." They listen closely, while implicitly knowing how to utilize harmonic and dynamic understatement for maximum expression. Smith includes a pair of his own compositions here as well. First is the long, moody, and exploratory "Alhambra," with his keyboard strings and muted trumpet sounds, eventually evolving into a free-for-all jam with everyone digging deep. He also revisits "All in My Mind," from 1977's Funk Reaction. The latter is a more retiring (but no less satisfying) version, with Olatuja's gorgeous voice as its focal point. The set closes with a soul-jazz cum post-bop read of Freddie Hubbard's sprightly "Up Jumped Spring" that finds the great organ master allowing his playful side to come to the fore, gliding through the changes to set the pace for his sidemen. While this set doesn't possess the raw fireworks of his recordings on Palmetto such as Boogaloo to Beck, Too Damn Hot, and Spiral, it more than compensates in taste and outstanding musicianship, making for a thoroughly enjoyable listen from end to end. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 29, 2016 | Blue Note (BLU)

Since Hammond B-3 specialist Lonnie Smith left Blue Note in the '70s, the largely self-taught musician has added the "Dr." to his name, adopted a traditional Sikh turban as a distinctive, if enigmatic style choice (it's unclear if he follows the religion), and continued to release a steady stream of highly regarded soulful well before the 21st century came around. With 2016's Evolution, Smith returns to Blue Note, his first studio album for the label since 1970's Drives. Produced by Don Was, Evolution is one of the most robust albums of his career. Where his previous few albums found him working in a trio format, on Evolution, Was surrounds Smith with various small group configurations featuring a bevy of post-bop, funk, and soul-ready musicians including drummers Jonathan Blake and Joe Dyson, guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg, trumpeters Keyon Harrold and Maurice Brown, and others. Also joining Smith here are several jazz luminaries including genre-bending pianist Robert Glasper, whose glassy piano tone rubs nicely against Smith's burnished Hammond warmth on "Play It Back." Similarly, saxophonist Joe Lovano, who first made his debut on Smith's 1975 effort Afrodesia, joins in on several cuts, including a reworking of "Afrodesia" and the slow-jam ballad "For Heaven's Sake." While Smith is the star of Evolution, the expanding group sound works well with his expansive approach to funk-jazz and the cuts with Harrold and Brown bring to mind the energetic hip-hop-inflected jazz of the Roots. Ultimately, it's Smith's juicy, nuanced, Hammond B-3 sound, deepened by over 50 years of experience, that makes Evolution such a career pinnacle. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released December 1, 2017 | Blue Note (BLU)

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Dr. Lonnie Smith in the magazine
  • The Organ Doctor
    The Organ Doctor Over 75 years, Dr. Lonnie Smith has given his Hammond a groove like no one else!