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Dr. Lonnie Smith: The Turbanator

This previously unreleased session, recorded in 1991, finds Smith in exuberant form on both organ and piano. On the opening “Caravan” he flies over the organ with a riveting rhythmic attack and explosive lines and accents that definitely get your blood pumping. Guitarist Jimmy Ponder continues the excitement with hot solo lines reminiscent of Wes Montgomery and George Benson. Bassist Buster Williams and drummer Buddy Williams provide a got-to-move groove underneath.

Smith lays down funky, Gene Harris-style chordal piano on his original “Night Song,” switches back to organ for a loping (and later boiling) “Someday My Prince Will Come” and returns to piano for another original, the bluesy “River Walk.” Williams’ bass walk is a gas here. Producer Houston Person, in a shouting mood, joins the group on tenor saxophone on Smith’s “Monk Could Swing,” with the composer on piano. The tenorman stays aboard for an Ammons-out-of-Hawkins ballad version of “Cherokee.” No one double-times-how refreshing! The CD ends on a rockish, blues-oriented note with Smith’s “Brushing It.”

Don’t let the decade-long lapse between recording and release deter you from checking out this album. Questionable quality didn’t keep it in the can.

Originally Published