Lonnie Smith - Turning Point
Available 21st July.
One of the funkiest and most creative organists of all time, Dr. Lonnie Smith was first brought into the Blue Note fold by alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson who featured the B3 virtuoso on late-1960s soul jazz classics including Alligator Bogaloo, Mr. Shing-a-Ling, and Midnight Creeper. Smith went on to sign with Blue Note and lead his own dates beginning with his excellent 1968 label debut Think! In January 1969 Smith returned to Van Gelder Studio to record the follow-up Turning Point with a dynamic 6-piece band that packed a punch with a 3-horn frontline featuring Lee Morgan on trumpet, Julian Priester on trombone, and Bennie Maupin on tenor saxophone. The rhythm section featured guitarist Melvin Sparks and was anchored by the propulsive drumming of Leo Morris (aka Idris Muhammad). The 5-song set produced by Francis Wolff opens with a hard-grooving take on Don Covay’s “See Saw,” which was a hit for Aretha Franklin the year before. Other choice covers include a laid-back version of “People Sure Act Funny” by Titus Turner and Bobby Robinson and an inventive reworking of The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” that injects the Lennon-McCartney gem with a healthy dose of soul. Two Smith originals round out the album including the smoldering “Slow High” and the expansive album-closing title piece which kicks into high gear after a rubato introduction by Smith.