File next to: Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Shirley Scott
The title might be taken as a hint that the music’s going somewhere it hasn’t been before, but that’s not really the case with Evolution, the 24th long player from the esteemed soul-jazz organist and early associate of guitarist George Benson. And the honorific Dr. Lonnie Smith needn’t go anywhere new: across the seven tracks on *Evolution, he and his ace band tear through some tuneful, deep-groove instrumental numbers that showcase the musical simpatico they share. Evolution isn’t as organ-heavy as, say, a Jimmy Smith record; Smith is prominent on his gurgling, wonderfully expressive Hammond B3 organ, but he gives his musical co-conspirators plenty of room to blow on saxophone, trumpet, guitar, piano, and drums. It doesn’t quite capture the excitement of seeing Smith and band live onstage, but that’s a tall order. In turns subtle and exuberant, Evolution is a treat.