Dr. Lonnie Smith - Evolution (Blue Note, 2015)
It’s been what [?], forty or forty-five years since Dr. Lonnie Smith, the godfather of the Hammond B3 organ, and Spartan of the groove, delivered from on high his last recording for Blue Note Records. Highly overlooked, but nonetheless musically affluent in the 60’s, Dr. Smith infected the world with his soul-jazz and over the top algebraic musical constructions that were not only finger popping good, but widened the eyes of even the most wide-eyed jazz cats out there [not forgetting us jazz kittens].
Smith delivers all you’d expect here on Evolution, plus he pulls some stuff out of thin air that you wouldn’t believe. This is an album that showcases the music, with a mere seven tracks, each of differing styles that flow with moving textures that are fully developed with the immediacy of a hand that’s been furnishings notes to upturned ears for longer than I can remember. And he does it all with a huge sound, with two drummers, funky horns, and all without pulling punches and avoiding gimmicks.
I used to spend my Friday nights in a variety of record shops, tossing my jacket behind the counter and going through the store from A to Z. Often times it was merely a striking album cover that grabbed my attention. Today those adventurous evenings are long gone, nevertheless Evolution has a cover that demands your attention, almost as if the notes where being projected through the art, assuring your fingertips that this gem was gonna be on your turntable for quiet awhile.
I don’t know if it’s my ears or Dr. Smith’s organ, because his notes seem to have become much richer over the years, more deep, more expressive, making this release the crowing touch for his career ... I’m avoiding using the word ‘pinnacle’ as I’m hoping for one more bit of magic from Lonnie Smith and his band of luminary mystics to round out my collection.
Review by Jenell Kesler/2016
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