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Lonnie Smith

Hammond Organ
December 28, 1940 --

Lonnie Smith

Lonnie Smith

"When I thought about organ players [for my group], Lonnie came into my mind because he can swing."

--George Benson

Several years ago, one of my friends in uptown New York told me to make a point of hearing the group that was then at Minton's. When I arrived there in due course, Teddy Hill was standing around with a benign expression that augured well.

I was familiar with guitarist George Benson from his records with Brother Jack McDuff, and he sounded even better as leader of his own quartet in the freedom that position ensured. But I was also very much impressed by his organist, Lonnie Smith. "When I called him," George told me later, explaining how he got his group together, "he was working with a rhythm-and-blues group, but he decided to take a chance with me, although I had nothing lined up."

I thought Lonnie had to be celebrating some great occasion that night, or had found some elixir outclassing those behind the bar on Teddy Hill's well-stocked shelves. He exuded happiness, and he was as energetic as he was enthusiastic. Afterwards, of course, I discovered there was nothing unusual about his performance. It was to his own abandoned pattern, the Lonnie Smith Ordinary that always sounds like the Lonnie Smith Special.

A lot of adjectives and likenesses come to mind regarding Lonnie's playing, but as always in attempts to describe the intangibles of music, they lack precision. They drive, after all, from subjective impressions, and to say that Lonnie plays with furious energy, or that he always manages to set the pot boiling--and keep it boiling--is not necessary to describe the effect of the music on the record buyer. Nevertheless, what can be said without fear of contradiction is that his playing is synonymous with excitement. You just cannot stand by, cool and detached, for long. The music pulls you in. headlong, sets you whirling . . . why, just as though you were in a whirlpool of sound.

--STANLEY DANCE, from the liner notes,
Lonnie Smith Drives, Blue Note.

A selected discography of Lonnie Smith albums.

Find Lonnie Smith on Amazon.comFind Lonnie Smith on
Lonnie Smith CDs on AmazonLonnie Smith CDs & LPs on eBay
Lonnie Smith Trio CDs on AmazonLonnie Smith DVD / VHS on eBay
Lonnie Smith BOOKs on eBay


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