Posted in Jazz Standard, tagged Dr. Lonnie Smith, funk, Hammond B-3, Jamaire Williams, jazz, Jazz Standard, Jonathan Kreisberg, Lonnie, organ, organ trio, Smith, soul on January 15, 2012 |
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Dr. Lonnie Smith at the Jazz Standard, circa 2010.
Photo Credit: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
On one of the most bone-chilling winter nights of the year, Dr. Lonnie Smith’s organ spirit reached exhilarating heights in trio with guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Jamaire Williams. Though this arrangement lies on the intimate end of Smith’s quintet and nonet spectrum, the band enveloped the Jazz Standard as would a full-sized orchestra. Stirred about by a gently permeating stream of chords off Kreisberg’s guitar, the set began its ascent toward whole-body catharsis with the tune “River Walk”.
The evening eased in with a reflective vibe in the hands of Smith’s bass-like organ hum and Williams’ tenderly rhythmic drums. The mellow piece, featured on Smith’s 1991 release The Turbanator, took an explosive turn a few minutes in, clearing the aural sinuses with an acidic yet soulful flavor. Heads began bobbing across the audience at first listen of Smith’s signature trail-blazing tang. The organist riffed, cascaded, and pounded on his Hammond B3 with blissful abandon, spearheading into assertive zest alongside Kreisberg’s jolting crescendos and Williams’ creative dynamism.
The trio grasped their flaming momentum by the reigns in a rock-jazz fusion jam taken from Spiral, their latest release. A drum-organ storm bubbled and broke the anthem into heavily rhythmic discord, zapped by blurts of guitar. The edgy turmoil abruptly whittled down to light acoustic for a few moments, steeping deeply in Kreisberg’s earthy chord bits and streaming riffs. And just as abruptly, his riffs morphed to fiery grenades, providing a virtuosic battlefield upon which Smith’s piercing, violin-like organ tousled into Williams’ intensely rocking beats. The resulting sound embodied explosive convolution to anarchic appeal, dancing upon the verge of spilling over.
The organ master has arrived!
Photo credits: ipress.hr
Though the trio undoubtedly masters bold fanfare, its way with heart-touching composition is most gripping of all. “Pilgrimage”, a tune featured on Smith’s 2009 album Rise Up, carried the set to a bittersweet close, at the crossroads of serene romanticism and fierce melancholy. Kreisberg filled the shoes of alto saxist Donald Harrison (who appeared on the original recording), and soon twisted those shoes into a musical sculpture of his own. His tender tone set forth a gently captivating melody laced with enveloping aural warmth. Smith’s sparse vocals were the true clincher, however, mingling with his raspy organ as though the very same instrument.
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Posted in Jazz Standard, tagged Dr. Lonnie Smith, funk, Hammond B-3, jazz, Jazz Standard, Jonathan Kreisberg, Keyon Harrold, Logan Richardson, Max Seigel, nonet, organ, soul, Too Damn Hot on August 6, 2011 |
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Dr. Lonnie Smith, in all of his glory.
Photo credits: hammond-organ.com
The nearly four decade career of pioneering organist Dr. Lonnie Smith has branched to the tune of a newly formed nonet, featuring a mix of both well established and quickly rising jazz talents. The “little big band” barely made it onto the Jazz Standard’s sizeable stage, prompting several brass and percussion members to park themselves at a nose’s length of front-seated folks—perhaps a slight foreshadowing to the band’s explosive sound to come. Dr. Lonnie’s collaborators took a backseat during the concert’s first few minutes, giving him the clear to go to town on his Hammond B-3 organ. Maintaining his signature sage-like presence, he blared chunky chord after the other on a sixties-era composition, quickly rising to electric astringency.
Live at the Jazz Standard!
Photo credits: zooomr.com
The nonet missed the “organ band” title by a long shot despite Dr. Lonnie’s initial command, fully blossoming over to a conglomerated sound early in the set. Dr. Lonnie ebbed and flowed his funky twangs with harmonious tact, intertwining with a succession of solos ranging from classic and aged to uncannily experimental. Trumpeter Keyon Harrold pioneered both worlds in an extended brass tangent, vigorously propelled by circular breathing, reaching extents of piercing acerbity and lush warmth. Logan Richardson on tenor sax countered with a more measured approach leaning on the side of buttery, brewing smoothness.
Song choice progressed in an increasingly charged direction, delving from the playfully romantic, acid jazz feel of “Too Damn Hot” into darker material. An instrumentally complex political tune bore much of the concert’s dark weight. John Ellis traded his tenor sax for bass clarinet in an ominous solo, further made eerie by Jamire Williams’ military march drum reps. Dr. Lonnie didn’t completely abandon his vivacious tang, closing the tune with a gentler funk guided along by guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg’s steamy, thread-thin strums.
A Middle Eastern-tinged number returned the band slightly back to its original looseness. Tubist Max Seigel blurted out some low notes to settle in the back ear, excellently accenting the band’s rich brass-percussion unison. Echoing both homey soul and mystic spirituality, the piece was an appropriately simmering clincher to a set driven by dynamic sound.
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