Jazz CD Reviews
Dr. Lonnie Smith – Rise Up! – Palmetto Records
Published on February 7, 2009
(Dr. Lonnie Smith, Hammond B-3 organ, vocals; Peter Bernstein, guitar; Donald Harrison, alto sax; Herlin Riley, drums; Special guests: Matt Balitsaris, guitar, James Shipp, percussion, and Jo Lawry, background vocal)
It’s always a great occasion when Lonnie Smith announces the fact of an upcoming new CD. It’s even more special when Lonnie records with a noted sax player. Such is the case with the upcoming CD, Rise Up! on Palmetto Records. We’ve obtained an advance copy and it is quite impressive. Lonnie recently played at Jimmy Maks’ jazz club in Portland, Oregon, on tour with Donald Harrison. Several of the tracks on Rise Up were introduced that night – A Matterapat, Come Together, And the World Weeps come to mind – and the buzz of excitement that Smith elicited that night are brought to fruition with his new CD.
A Matterapat sets the stage for what’s to come as Donald Harrison provides the perfect foil for Lonnie as he blows pure funk while drummer, Herlin Riley, and percussionist Shipp swirl with cymbals and cowbell. Bernstein has several tasty choruses before Lonnie takes over the groove. Come Together follows and you’ve never heard it funkified like this as the Good Doctor grunts out vocalisms while churning out Hammond runs.
Pilgrimage is a visit to a Sunday church service, and Harrison is extra soulful in a relaxed groove. Amen … More sweetness follows with Dapper Dan and the drum/percussion mix, as well as more Bernstein guitar deserve special mention. And the World Weeps is taken at a mournful crawl as Riley taps out a snare beat, while Peter Bernstein and Donald Harrison add to the procession. You can imagine this track being played at funeral tribute.
People Make the World Go Round lightens the mood as the Turbinator and Harrison share the melody. Sweet Dreams is a psychedelic trip to funky slumber; again proof that bringing a sax into the mix really adds a soulfulness that the Hammond-guitar-drum trio sometimes lacks.
This is Lonnie Smith’s third CD for Palmetto, following Too Damn Hot and Jungle Soul, from 2005 and 2006 respectively. The addition of Donald Harrison to the musical stew that Lonnie cooks up makes Rise Up! the pick of the litter.
TrackList: A Matterapat, Come Together, Pilgrimage, Dapper Dan, And the World Weeps, People Make the World Go Round, Tyrone, Sweet Dreams, Voodoo Doll
– Jeff Krow