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Dr. Lonnie Smith: Boogaloo to Beck

Is a Beck song still a Beck song when no one’s singing the words? The pop artist’s tunes rely on his free-association flow of nonsequiturs, whether they’re songs of lovelorn lament or hip-hopping storms of cheeky samples and other assorted sonic whatnot. It’d take a band with stones-a-plenty to drop the microphone on wordy Beck anthems like “The New Pollution” and “Loser” and not wear you out on the monotony of the verse-chorus routine.

Dr. Lonnie Smith gives it a go on Boogaloo to Beck with a small combo gathered ’round the B3. Soul-jazz is the M.O., and guitarist-arranger-producer Doug Munro (in hiding as the real leader on the date, I suspect) tries to buck the no-singing dilemma by using Beck’s melodies as launch points for long solos. It’s sort of like Jazz Impressions of a Boy Named Beck-and it could have worked-but please: more soul. Most of these tunes groove like mad in their original incarnations. They’ve all but begged to be recast in the organ-jazz mold and deserve better than the sterility of these performances.

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