Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dr. Lonnie Smith - Rise Up! (Palmetto, 2009)

Organist (Dr.) Lonnie Smith leads a hot ensemble including Peter Bernstein on guitar, Herlin Riley on drums, Donald Harrison on alto sax on a no-frills set of blues, ballads and pop tunes. The album leads off with their strongest performance, "Matterapat", which has burning playing all around. Harrison in particular sounds very good. I hadn't heard him in this context before and the beefy organ suits him well. This holds true for "Tyrone" which gives everyone a chance to step up and wail at a very high tempo and making for a quite exciting performance. A radically altered version of the Beatles "Come Together" and a strange and not entirely successful cover version of the Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams" are the pop tunes covered on this session. Grits 'n' gravy may be the Doctor's strong point, but he is far from a one-dimensional musician. This is a very solid chunk of organ jazz. While there isn't anything particularly progressive here that will surprise you, this is the kind of meat and potatoes music that sticks to your ribs.
Rise Up! -

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