Sunday, October 09, 2005

Lonnie Smith - Turning Point (Blue Note 1969, 2005)

Organist Lonnie Smith in his pre-turban days on Blue Note playing a very poppy organ funk groove record that was recently re-released by the label as part of the Connoisseur Series overseen by Rudy Van Gelder. The album kicks off with "Seesaw" featuring an organ groove over lock step drums and trumpet and tenor saxophone providing flourishes. "Slow High" adopts a mid-tempo funky groove with a good tenor saxophone solo by Bennie Maupin who really digs deep into the tune, moving it beyond simple soul-jazz.

An attempt to cross over to the pop audience come with an odd choice of the Beatles "Eleanor Rigby" as a cover tune. The song begins with Smith setting an eerie tone to the song on organ growing nearly maudlin with the melody. Maupin’s tenor again steps in to save the day and he kick starts Smith into a grinding organ solo that breaks the drums loose from their shackles and the group takes flight for one of the few times on record. The title track rounds things out with the organ building uneasily and then dropping into a straight ahead groove over horn riffs. Lee Morgan’s trumpet solo solos over an organ and drum groove. Smith pulls out up-tempo solo to instill some life into the proceedings and take things out.

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