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Rise Up! by Dr. Lonnie Smith

One of the more prominent exponents of the Hammond B-3 organ, Dr. Lonnie Smith resets the groove quotient on his third album for Palmetto Records. He doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but lets the good times roll on his genial funk and soul-drenched spin on The Beatles’ "Come Together," complete with his gruff vocals over the top. The organist melds the blues into his bag of tricks, evidenced by his deep phrasings and upper-register trills during the emotive and strutting "And the World Weeps."

One of my favorite tracks is Smith’s funk-rock and boogaloo cover of the pop hit "People Make The World Go Round," where he teems with alto saxophonist Donald Harrison for the primary theme. In addition, guitarist Peter Bernstein’s sleek, medium-toned solo provides a cool vibe and then passes the baton back to Smith who raises the temperature via his darting lines and modulating chord clusters.

Smith is a master at generating tension and release based statements. He also has an acute penchant for revitalizing pop or rock standards and morphing into his own music vernacular. Smith is a strong composer as well. For example, his "Voodoo Doll" spawns lucid imagery of an ethereal New Orleans locale, spiced with wordless vocals and Big Easy reared drummer, Herlin Riley’s rolling tom tom patterns. Here, Smith devises a shadowy theme that might indeed cast a spell on the willing listener. No doubt, the artist professes ample doses of good cheer amid his upbeat persona throughout this entertaining studio set.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Dr. Lonnie Smith
  • CD Title: Rise Up!
  • Genre: Acid Jazz
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Palmetto Records
  • Musicians: Dr. Lonnie Smith (vocals, Hammond b-3 organ), Jo Lawry (vocals), Matt Balitsaris, Peter Bernstein (guitar), Donald Harrison (alto saxophone); Herlin Riley (drums), Jo Lawry (vocals), James Shipp (percussion), Matt Balitsaris (guitar)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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