Dr. Lonnie Smith

All In My Mind (Tone Poet edition)

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Recorded during his 75th birthday celebration at the Jazz Standard in New York City, All in My Mind follows B-3 boss Dr. Lonnie Smith's acclaimed 2016 release, Evolution, which marked his return to Blue Note Records. Again unobtrusively produced by label boss Don Was, the seven-track set places the great organist in the company of his working trio with guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Jonathan Blake. In addition, drummer Joe Dyson and vocalist Alicia Olatuja appear on a track each. The program, like Smith's best Blue Note work from the days of yore (1968-1970), is wildly diverse. It opens with a cooking read of Wayne Shorter's classic modal composition "Juju." Smith's Hammond B-3 goes deep beneath the surface structure of the tune to reveal the subtle colors and tones inherent in the original melody, Kreisberg highlights them with slippery grace and shifting arpeggios, and Blake drives the strident yet mysterious groove with tasty breaks and fills. Smith's labyrinthine solo builds on the changes to balance groove and keyboard pyrotechnics. Another highlight is the nine-and-a-half-minute version of Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover." Commencing as a slow burn with Kreisberg stating the melody and guest Dyson relying heavily on funky, syncopated breaks, Smith's entry offers subdued tonal shades in the changes until the refrain, when the trio shifts gears toward improvisation, carrying the tune into previously unknown regions. Smith's trio displays its elegant chops and close camaraderie on a sultry, lyrical read of Tadd Dameron's classic "On a Misty Night." They listen closely, while implicitly knowing how to utilize harmonic and dynamic understatement for maximum expression. Smith includes a pair of his own compositions here as well. First is the long, moody, and exploratory "Alhambra," with his keyboard strings and muted trumpet sounds, eventually evolving into a free-for-all jam with everyone digging deep. He also revisits "All in My Mind," from 1977's Funk Reaction. The latter is a more retiring (but no less satisfying) version, with Olatuja's gorgeous voice as its focal point. The set closes with a soul-jazz cum post-bop read of Freddie Hubbard's sprightly "Up Jumped Spring" that finds the great organ master allowing his playful side to come to the fore, gliding through the changes to set the pace for his sidemen. While this set doesn't possess the raw fireworks of his recordings on Palmetto such as Boogaloo to Beck, Too Damn Hot, and Spiral, it more than compensates in taste and outstanding musicianship, making for a thoroughly enjoyable listen from end to end.


1. Juju
2. Devika
3. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover
4. On A Misty Night
5. Alhambra
6. All In My Mind
7. Up Jumped Spring