B3 Organ Legend: Dr. Lonnie Smith
Super funky and deeply soulful, Dr. Lonnie Smith, a 2017 NEA Jazz Master, is an authentic virtuoso of the Hammond B-3 organ. For more than five decades, he has been featured on over seventy albums and has recorded and performed with a virtual “Who’s Who” of the greatest jazz, blues and R&B giants in the industry. Jazz Times magazine describes him as “a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a turban!” Tonight, it is an honor to host an American musical legend with his trio in the intimate Patterson theater. Tickets are limited. Each show will be 75 minutes in length.
About Dr. Lonnie Smith: Born in Buffalo, New York, Lonnie was blessed with the gift of music. His mother introduced him to gospel, blues and jazz at an early age. In his teens, he sang in several vocal groups, including his own group called the Supremes–formed long before Motown’s eventual iconic act of the same name. Lonnie also played trumpet and other instruments at school and was a featured soloist. In the late ‘50s, with the encouragement of Art Kubera, who owned a local music store that he would visit daily, Lonnie learned how to play a Hammond organ. By completely immersing himself in the records of organists such as Wild Bill Davis, Bill Doggett and Jimmy Smith, as well as paying rapt attention to the church organ, Lonnie began to find his musical voice. “Even though I didn’t know how, I was able to play right from the beginning,” Dr. Smith reflects. “I learned how to work the stops and that was it. It’s a passion for me, so everything else came naturally.” Because of Mr. Kubera’s kindness, Dr. Lonnie often refers to Art as his “angel.”
Lonnie’s first gigs were at Buffalo’s hottest jazz club, the Pine Grill, where he rapidly garnered the attention of folks like Jack McDuff, Lou Donaldson, George Benson, and the booking agent Jimmy Boyd. George Benson was looking for an organist for his quartet and enlisted Lonnie. The group soon relocated to New York City, where they quickly established a reputation as innovators in Harlem clubs and throughout the area. After appearing on several Benson albums, Lonnie went on to make his first recording as a leader—Finger Lickin’ Good–for Columbia Records in 1966. Shortly thereafter, saxophonist Lou Donaldson scooped Smith up to record, and Lonnie would appear on several epic Blue Note LPs, including the million-seller, Alligator Boogaloo. Blue Note clearly liked what they heard and inked the organist to his own recording contract, a deal which would produce the soul jazz classicsThink!, Turning Point, Move Your Hand, Drives and Live at Club Mozambique (released many years later).
Since leaving the Blue Note stable in the ‘70s, Dr. Lonnie Smith has recorded for a slew of record labels, including Kudu, Groove Merchant, T.K., Scufflin’, Criss Cross and Palmetto, ascending the charts many times. His unpredictable, insatiable musical taste illustrates that no genre is safe, as Lonnie has recorded everything from covers of the Beatles, the Stylistics and the Eurythmics, to tribute albums of Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane and Beck. Moreover, many of Doc’s recent compositions reflect dramatic ethereal qualities and orchestration that elicit movie scores or soundtracks.
Dr. Smith has been amused to find himself sampled in rap, dance and house grooves while being credited as a forefather of acid jazz. When questioned about his consistent interest in music, and how some aficionados consider outside the jazz “mainstream,” Lonnie shrugs. “Jazz is American Classical,” he proclaims. “And this music is a reflection of what’s happening at the time… The organ is like the sunlight, rain and thunder…it’s all the worldly sounds to me!”
The trio tonight is Dr. Lonnie Smith, Hammond B3 organ and keyboard; Jonathan Kreisberg, guitar; and Byron Landham, drums.
To provide local flavor to this special night, saxophonist Jamal Moore's Organix Trio will be performing in the Marquee Lounge at 7:15pm and 9:45pm, after Dr. Smith's first and second sets.
Jamal Moore is a multi-instrumentalist, composer/performer and educator from Baltimore. His background include California Institute of The Arts (M.F.A. 2012) and Berklee College of Music (B.M 2005). Some notable luminaries Jamal has worked with include Wadada Leo Smith, Nicole Mitchell, Sabir Mateen, Roscoe Mitchell, David Ornette Cherry, and Dr. Bill Cole. Jamal currently leads his own groups, Akebulan Arkestra, Napata Ensemble, Black Elements Quartet, Organix Trio, and Interstellar Duo. He also collaborates with Luke Stewart in Ancestral Duo.
This event is made possible through the Jazz Touring Network of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.
6pm & 8:30pm | $35, $30 members | + $3 at the door
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