Album Mini-review: Dr. Lonnie Smith — Evolution
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.
About the Author
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4000-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he is co-teaching a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, was published in 2021 by HoZac Books. His third book, What's the Big Idea: 40 Great Concept Albums will be published in 2024. Read even more about him here.