The doctor is in
Jazz legend Lonnie Smith comes to town for two shows Monday
Whether it’s the danceable grooves of Soulive, the heady experimental stews of Medeski Martin And Wood, or even the jam band wankery of Galactic, the musical movement known as soul jazz is still alive and well. The common denominator bridging bop, funk and R&B remains the Hammond B3 organ, a hefty instrument originally marketed to churches as cheap alternative to the pipe organ. Back in the day, the masters of the Hammond were Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, and Dr. Lonnie Smith, who will perform two shows Monday at The Jazz Estate.
The turban-wearing, long-white-beard-sporting Smith—not to be confused with the similarly named Lonnie Liston Smith, a jazz keyboardist-pianist—is bound to attract attention due to his conspicuous appearance. But he’s been ear-catching since long before he was eye-catching: Smith has been playing the Hammond B3, and occasionally singing, since the ’50s. The acclaimed musician has played with such figures as Dizzy Gillespie, Gladys Knight, and Etta James, so Smith’s newer quirks (like randomly deciding to go by “Doctor”) and most recent album, the upbeat Rise Up!, are only the tip of the iceberg.
In advance of the Jazz Estate shows, here are some über-funky clips of Smith in action. Here is he letting it rip at an American Legion Post in Harlem:
Here’s Smith funking up The Beatles’s “Come Together”: