Dr. Lonnie Smith - All In My Mind

Label: Blue Note Records, 2018

Personnel - Dr. Lonnie Smith: organ; Jonathan Kreisberg: guitar; Johnathan Blake: drums.

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An ace of the B-3 Hammond organ, Dr. Lonnie Smith, is back on the Blue Note Records, this time with All In My Mind, a live record in which he tackles covers and originals with the same devotion. Accompanying him on this groovy journey are guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Johnathan Blake, whose exceptional musicality could be heard on Smith's last year’s Evolution. Hence, the trio keeps well anchored in the groove, only here the guests are much less than on the cited album, which counted on Joe Lovano, John Ellis, Joe Dyson, and Robert Glasper, just to name a few.

All the fervency of Wayne Shorter’s “JuJu” is left intact in this absolutely stirring version. Throbbing at a swift 3/4 tempo, this modal exercise sparkles with a wondrous reverb-drenched guitar improvisation by Kreisberg, who, revolving around the melody, injects occasional rhythmic convulsions and jaw-dropping patterns within the limpid phrasing that characterizes his playing. Smith and Blake follow him with solos involved in brightness.

Elegantly atmospheric, “Devika”, an old original, offers up a polished slice of jazz-funk wrapped in blue tonalities. The relaxation identified with this number opposes to Paul Simon’s pop hit “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover”, whose buoyant spirit makes it instantly accessible. The song starts off with guest Joe Dyson’s colorful press rolls imposing the pace, while the melody is shared between the guitarist and the organist, who dig the A and B sections, respectively. By the end, after the bandleader’s organ explosion, we have vibrato guitar inflections and the amazing marching chops devised by the drummer.
 
The deft brushed drumming of Blake sets in motion Tadd Dameron’s ballad “On a Misty Night”, but it was with Smith’s never-recorded original “Alhambra” that his burning-hot style comes to the forefront. Rooted in Spanish music, the piece displays a rich sonic palette with horn and woodwind emulations mixed with egregious synth chords, electronics, and semi-acoustic guitar. Its flow is an invitation to discover new places and new sounds, and everything culminates in a fusion cocktail spiced by a cool Latin/samba rhythm. 

The title track, another Smith’s classic, features the guest singer Alicia Olatuja duetting with the bandleader, whereas Freddie Hubbard’s “Up Jumped Spring”, a piece that first saw the daylight in 1962 through Art Blakey, closes the session in a bohemian hard-bop gaiety.

Produced by Don Was, the recording is presented with the finest quality, so every move or expression can be heard clearly and crisply. In a remarkable shape, the emblematic Dr. Lonnie Smith showcases his peculiar sounds, having fun with the beneficial organ-guitar-drums format.

        Grade  B+

       Grade B+

Favorite Tracks:
01 - Ju Ju ► 03 - 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover ► 05 – Alhambra