This previously unreleased live set, which has been issued on Blue Note's Rare Groove Series, will bore anyone who listens closely. The repertoire is dominated by lengthy funk grooves that are quite danceable but never develop beyond the obvious. Altoist Lou Donaldson was using a baritone horn at the time that gave him a generic and unappealing tone, the obscure trumpeter Fred Ballard does his best to no avail and the enthusiastic rhythm section (guitarist Melvin Sparks, organist Leon Spencer, Jr., and drummer Idris Muhammad) keeps the grooves repetitious. Bob Porter's liner notes (which colorfully give readers the history of Newark jazz of the past 30 years) are superlative but, even with the inclusion of a fast blues, musically nothing much happens.
Recorded on May 21, 1970, at Detroit's Club Mozambique, this was shelved and remained unreleased until it was retrieved for CD issue in 1995. It's odd that Blue Note decided to sit on it for so long, because it ranks as one of Lonnie's better sets. The band, featuring George Benson on guitar, is relaxed and funky without being in your face about it, and unlike much soul-jazz of the time, most of the material is original, Smith having penned six of the eight numbers. Although the riffs often owe a lot to James Brown, this is definitely at least as much jazz as soul, with Lonnie taking a rare vocal turn on "Peace of Mind."
Set Us Free, Reuben Wilson's final album for Blue Note, was issued in 1971. Since that time it has become an immortal and much sought classic by beatheads for a single track: "We're in Love." DJ Premier sampled it liberally – for its Hammond B-3 vamps, backing vocals, and decorative percussion – for use on rapper Nas' smash "Memory Lane." Hip-hop fans suddenly had to hear more, and as a result not only is Wilson active again on the circuit, but there has also been terrific interest in his catalog.
Move Your Hand was recorded live at Club Harlem in Atlantic City on August 9, 1969. Organist Lonnie Smith led a small combo – featuring guitarist Larry McGee, tenor saxist Rudy Jones, bari saxist Ronnie Cuber, and drummer Sylvester Goshay – through a set that alternated originals with two pop covers, the Coasters' "Charlie Brown" and Donovan's "Sunshine Superman." Throughout, the band works a relaxed, bluesy, and, above all, funky rhythm; they abandon improvisation and melody for a steady groove, so much that the hooks of the two pop hits aren't recognizable until a few minutes into the track.
Think!, organist Lonnie Smith's 1968 sophomore effort for Blue Note, is easily one of the strongest dates the Hammond B-3 master would produce for the label. Featuring a stellar group of musicians including trumpeter Lee Morgan, tenor saxophonist David Newman, guitarist Melvin Sparks, and drummer Marion Booker, Jr., as well as a three-member Afro-Latin percussion unit led by Henry "Pucho" Brown, Think! is a perfect mix of funky soul and forward-thinking jazz. Kicking things off with Hugh Masekela's instantly memorable "Son of Ice Bag," both Sparks and Newman take searching funk-flow solos while Morgan seems to be remembering a certain Masekela lick he dug.
Who says you have to slow down as you get older? The honorable B-3 master, Dr. Lonnie Smith, has been on a renaissance tear since the beginning of the 21st century. Rise Up! is the fifth new recording since 2000, and there have been a number of reissues of his older work to boot. Given that some artists issue a record a year, this may not seem like such a terrific feat – but appearances are deceiving. Smith recorded only 13 albums between 1966 and 1996, so five in nine years is actually prolific. It's not only the quantity, however, it's the consistency of the quality of the records Smith has been releasing that is outstanding, and Rise Up! is no exception.
One of Lonnie Smith's rarest albums – and one of the most obscure records on the landmark Kudu label! The set is one of Smith's most far-reaching from the 70s – a bit in the mode of his earlier records for Blue Note, but with a slightly sweeter quality that shows the shift to Kudu – where Lonnie's Hammond had lost none of its grooving power!
This reissue features cardboard sleeve jacket (gatefold sleeve). Jimi Hendrix, taken to the territory of funky Hammond jazz – thanks to a trio that features Lonnie Smith on organ and John Abercrombie on guitar! Abercrombie's lines aren't nearly as freaky and fuzzy as Jimi's, but the groove here is a really nice change – one that almost digs into the inherently soulful elements of Hendrix's music, then turns it further into a vehicle for jazz-based exploration! Marvin Smitty Smith is in drums – and titles include "Third Stone From The Sun", "Foxy Lady", "Castles Made Of Sand/Star Spangled Banner", and "Jimi Meets Miles".
Reissue. Features the high-fidelity SHM-CD format (fully compatible with standard CD player) and the latest remastering (24bit 192kHz). One of the hippest Curtis Fuller albums for Blue Note – and one of the rarest too – a set that was recorded in 1958, but only ever issued on vinyl in this rare Japanese pressing from the 80s! The date's quite unique – as it features "two bones", that is, two trombonists – both Curtis Fuller and Slide Hampton, the latter of whom makes a rare Blue Note appearance with a hard, heavy, soulful groove. Rhythm is from the trio of Sonny Clark on piano, George Tucker on bass, and Al Harewood on drums – and the quality of the record is all super-high – another one of those Blue Note mysteries as to why the label never issued the set at the time. Titles include "Pajama Tops", "Fuss Budget", "Oatmeal Cookie", "Da-Baby", and "Loquacious Lady".