For Dr. Lonnie Smith, the groove reigns supreme. A veteran musician whose playing is as tight as his ever-present turban, Smith sets a new standard for the mighty Hammond B3 on “Spiral,” thanks to a fresh musical partnership with the accomplished guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Jamire Williams, who supplies the rhythmic snap. Sounding stimulated and inspired by these young guys, it’s hard to believe that Smith’s performance could eclipse the fine work on his last album, Rise Up! but it does.
Smith goes back to basics on “Spiral” – he finds meaty grooves in old standards by Frank Loesser and Rodgers and Hart rather than the pop covers of he favored on his earlier CDs. The trio infuses these tunes with rich invention from the second-line pulse of Jimmy Smith’s “Mellow Mood” to the after hours slow grind of Slide Hampton’s “Frame For The Blues.” Kreisberg sets the pace with a pulse-quickening tempo for “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” with Williams following in lockstep. The group trades precise solos with feverish aplomb but it’s Smith who provides the bite with a slew of juicy notes. One more surprise – the band covers pianist Harold Mabern’s “Beehive,” turning it into an exhilarating slice of modern jazz primed for listeners who would otherwise be grooving to Martin, Medeski and Wood. Team Smith doesn’t pull any punches – the notes ricochet off the walls as if syncopated to strobe lights. www.palmetto-records.com
(8 tracks/49:22 minutes)
Labels: Dr. Lonnie Smith, Hammond B3, Jamire Williams, Jimmy Smith, Jonathan Kreisberg, Palmetto Records