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."
These recordings came about because the directors of Club Francais du Livre decided to go into the record business. Their plan was to record the top French musicians of the time, each session having an American visiting guest star. One suspects that the documentation of each session was sketchy, for instance there is an unlisted Bass player on the Buck Clayton set and there are other similar anomalies. This in no way detracts from the music, the Buck Clayton session is a classic of the great and often underrated Mainstream Trumpet Man. Michelle de Villiers acquits himself very well on both Tenor and Baritone and the rhythm section is clean and swinging. Andre Persiany is a class act on keyboards and it sounds like a session where everyone was enjoying themselves…
In 1984, UK-born Martin Springett—an accomplished musician and illustrator who had produced comics for the legendary Heavy Metal magazine and designed and illustrated record covers for Columbia—was commissioned to illustrate the cover of The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay, the first novel of the acclaimed Fionavar Tapestry Trilogy. A classic of fantasy literature, the trilogy is beloved worldwide, and it launched Springett to international fantasy illustration fame. In 1983, Springett is living in Toronto and releases his own album: The Gardening Club. A musically rich and diverse album, The Gardening Club combined King Crimson-like complexity, Canterbury scene-infused whimsy, and a strong pop sensibility, but in the shadow of new wave it was the right album, at the wrong time. In 2016, The Gardening Club has been revitalized with a new release: a totally remastered version with previously unreleased songs and a brand new companion graphic novel filled with Springett’s signature lush, oneiric imagery, wonderful wordplay and decidedly English brand of the fantastic. This is prog package for music and art lovers that can’t be missed!
All the rave reviews about this album are justified; this is a superb, sizzling, and very soulful live recording from 1970. According to the liner notes this recording was made "almost as an afterthought" by Blue Note. But afterwards, the label decided not to release the show, keeping it in the Blue Note vaults until it finally saw the light of day in 2000. But patience is rewarded; this is a fantastic album.
Recorded in 1970 but not released until 1996, Live At the "It Club" shows the Three Sounds pulling out funky, gritty rhythms out of their basic bluesy hard-bop sound. The group's funky influences are most noticeable in the rhythm section of drummer Carl Burnette and bassist Henry Franklin, who had been playing with Harris for only a short time when this set was recorded. The rhythm section pushes Harris, making the music loose and swinging – the groove matters more than anything on the album. Occasionally, the energy of the Three Sounds lags, but Live at the "It Club" is an enjoyable piece of grooving soul-jazz.