Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dr. Lonnie Smith - The Art of Organizing (Criss Cross, 2009)

Recorded in New York City in 1993, it is surprising that this fine set of burners and blues had to wait so long to be released. The group, consisting of Dr. Lonnie Smith on organ, Peter Bernstein on guitar and Ray Drummond on drums was performing together regularly at the time and that experience certainly paid off. Lonnie Smith is not a flashy musician, he never tries to dominate the instrument or the performance. He has an amazing level of dexterity at the keyboard and bass pedals. Strong slabs of organ on "This Ain't Right" build a massive groove and a deep bluesy pocket. Bernstein is an ideal partner with crisp complementing and fluid soloing. "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" is a subtle ballad with nice brushwork from Drummond. Patient guitar playing and funeral parlor organ keep the mood blue. "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise" has a fast fluid guitar feature and locomotive yet subtle drumming keeps it and Smith's organ moving inexorably forward. There is nice rhythmic percussion and strong Grant Green like guitar supported by swells of organ on "Turning Point" before moving into deeply grooving organ led trio section. Drummond is the key to this album, the pivot point which the others turn around. "Night Song" is a mid-tempo spacious blues stretching out to allow generous soloing. "Too Damn Hot" wraps things up with a nice swinging trio performance groove. This was a very enjoyable album, I'm partial to organ trio music, but there's nothing generic here, these musicians have developed their own sound and it should appeal to fans of modern mainstream jazz. The Art Of Organizing -

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