Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Reference 160M Amplifier (February 2019)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)

Blue Note B002780402
Format: CD

Musical Performance

Sound Quality

Overall Enjoyment

Organist Dr. Lonnie Smith returned to Blue Note Records in 2016 with Evolution, an entertaining and intelligent slice of soul jazz that was one of my favorite discs of that year. He’s back again on Blue Note, and this time producer Don Was recorded him live with his trio at the Jazz Standard, in New York. The show was a celebration of Smith’s 75th birthday, and this seven-song set illustrates the organist’s versatility and the timelessness -- the freshness, even -- of the kind of music he’s been playing for so long.

Smith opens with “Juju,” a Wayne Shorter tune that he and guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg bring up in volume before drummer Johnathan Blake enters with a driving beat. Smith states the theme firmly, then lets Kreisberg have plenty of room to unfurl a lengthy, melodically audacious solo that builds to a satisfying conclusion. Smith plays a fiery, dynamic statement that takes the song to new places while staying firmly locked into a groove. Blake does a brief, funky turn before the trio closes the tune.

Dr. Lonnie Smith

“Devika” is a mid-tempo ballad that shows how the band can play at a low simmer and still generate plenty of heat. In his solo, Smith spins a quick web of notes while keeping the melody in clear view. Joe Dyson takes over the drummer’s throne for Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” in which Kreisberg plays an extended solo that remains focused and inventive, and Smith’s feature expands on the original tune while emphasizing its funkiness, which Dyson helps drive along.

Tadd Dameron’s “On a Misty Night,” which he recorded in 1956 with John Coltrane, is a beautiful slow ballad here set off by Kreisberg’s open, sustained chords and Smith’s gentle handling of the melody. As Kreisberg’s solo unfolds, Smith builds chords dramatically behind him, then returns to a quiet statement of his own ideas that he builds to an exciting close. Blake’s brushwork is exemplary, and the trio’s command and sensitivity with this ballad make it one of the highlights of the disc.

Singer Alicia Olatuja takes the lead in “All in My Mind,” a Smith composition from 1977. The organist’s Leslie speaker adds swelling chords in support of her, and his voice joins hers in this wonderfully soulful track. Smith’s solo is a great example of 1960s soul-jazz intensity that still sounds fresh and vital. The CD ends with Freddie Hubbard’s “Up Jumped Spring,” a swinging romp that Smith plays joyfully.

Dr. Lonnie Smith

All three musicians interact with the uncanny ability to anticipate what’s needed at each moment, displaying the kind of precision and spontaneity that come from years of playing together. All in My Mind displays Smith’s mastery of a wide range of jazz styles, and his much younger band members play alongside him with conviction and enthusiasm.

Engineers Tyler McDiarmid and Geoff Countryman have captured the instruments in great detail along with a lot of low-frequency energy, which helps highlight Smith’s work on the bass pedals of his Hammond organ. There’s enough club ambiance to mark it as a live performance, and the recording brings out the energy and power of this trio.

The album never feels like a nostalgic return to an established jazz genre. Exciting and fresh, it’s the work of a musician who, after more than 50 years of recording, still has something worthwhile to say. As much as I liked Evolution, I think All in My Mind is even stronger. Kudos to Don Was for letting a long-established musician continue to share his gifts.

. . . Joseph Taylor