DR. LONNIE SMITH : : TOO DAMN HOT! (Palmetto 2004)

Wait a minute, wait a minute! You mean to tell me this is new Dr. Lonnie Smith I'm listening to? Really!?!? The album is called Too Damn HOT! and it sounds like it was unearthed as part of some groovalogical dig searching for fossilized organ-jazz music (as if there wasn't enough being produced in the here and now!). But it says here that this is new music and if that's the case: imitators beware! Dr. Smith has still got it as evidenced by this new disc, his first on Palmetto Records, which sounds like it has a degree from Oxford it is so old school.

There is probably no instrument that is as ubiquitous as the organ in today's music. The organ, though, is like a standard deck of playing cards – there are hundreds of different ways to play with styles, variations and innovations to fill a warehouse with old vinyl LP's. Here Smith plays like the master he is, with nothing to prove. You can see the sly grin on his face and his fingers massaging each key on a well-worn B-3. He's not trying to break any ground here, he knows it's already been broken, he is simply here to play the best and groovingest soul he can. Listening to the title track "Norleans" and your body teaches you why terms like "boogaloo" were invented; you just can't keep still. The tone is warm and luxuriating as Smith carries his little ensemble on his organ. It doesn't matter whether they're cooking with the heat that the album title promises on "Norleans" or "Track 9" or letting the soul simmer slowly on songs like "Back Track" it will all make your cheeks flush with smiles. The sparse cover or two, like the old standard "Someday My Prince Will Come" just add to the immediate vintage of the CD. This is the real thing, just what the doctor ordered, Too Damn HOT!

Aaron Stein
JamBase | New York
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[Published on: 12/4/04]

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