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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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LONNIE SMITH

Mama Wailer

Masterworks Jazz 88697 94704 2

 

 


1. Mama Wailer
2. Hola Muneca
3. I Feel the Earth Move
4. Stand

Lonnie Smith - Clavinet, organ
Marvin Cabell, Dave Hubbard - Tenor sax
Grover Washington Jr. - Tenor sax, flute
Danny Moore - Trumpet, flugelhorn
Ron Carter, Chuck Rainey - Double bass, electric bass
Billy Cobham - Drums
George Davis, Robert Lowe, Jimmy Ponder - Guitar
William King, Airto Moreira, Richard Pratt - Percussion

 

Organist Lonnie Smith a.k.a. Dr. Lonnie Smith (an honorific title that he bestowed on himself) is a soul-jazz funk keyboardist with a rock-solid B-3 reputation who could get down and dirty with a righteous groove.

In this superbly remastered reissue of an original 1971 release on Kudu Records, Smith is the driving force on these four cuts, and he sets the stage for some inspired playing by a band filled with strong jazz musicians.

Two of Smith's original compositions - Mama Wailer and Hola Muneca - lead off the disc. On the first track Smith is on clavinet (an amplified clavichord similar to an electric guitar) and accordingly offers some solid slippery work coupled with the boss tenor sax of Marvin Cabell and the bluesy guitar of Robert Lowe. In the latter track Smith is back on organ in a rhythmic Latin affair where he wails mostly in the upper register, playing off Cobham's drums and Carter's bass lines. Carole King's pop hit I Feel the Earth Move is the framework for some mid-tempo soul-jazz where Smith lays down the musical beat and gets picked up by the strong rhythm section.

The last track is Sly Stone's Stand and at over 17 minutes is the longest track on the disc and would have taken up all of one side of the original LP. It is a pure funkadocious performance with the musicians bobbing, weaving, and playing rope-a-dope with each other. While Smith takes the lead, Grover Washington Jr. demonstrates that he is no slouch on tenor sax improvisation, with guitarists Ponder and Davis laying down lines that match Smith's groove.

In terms of pure soul-jazz funk, this offering would be hard to match.

Pierre Giroux



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