Album Title: Rise Up!
Performer: Dr. Lonnie Smith
Label and #: Palmetto 2138 753957213824
Play Time: 50'02"
As classic Hammond B3 organ players go, Dr. Lonnie Smith is a titan of the style, a master of the sleekly purring keyboard rope-a-dope, a mellow groove meister who knows what buttons to push and where to push (and pull) them. As noted in the Afrikahn Jahmal Davys-penned liner notes to Rise Up!, Smith is truly "the Emperor of Funk, the Prince of Soul". He's a poll winner, a sideman extraordinaire, a producer and a 'doctor' (back in the day, on sessions with George Benson, Lou Donaldson and David 'Fathead' Newman, he was often called in to fix a studio track gone bad).
When joined here by alto man Donald Harrison on the sweet soul of "Pilgrimage" or with New Orleans drumming kingpin Herlin Riley on "Dapper Dan", you know you're undoubtedly in the presence of Hammond greatness. It's a fine recording from the "A Matterapat" opening track to the "Voodoo Doll" closer. Everyone performs to perfection and Smith and Harrison sound particularly inspired. At times though, there's a static voodoo at work in Rise Up! even amid the hot rhythms ("Dapper Dan") and humid atmospheres (the gorgeously melancholic "And the World Weeps"). Ultimately, the music somehow sounds contained, as if its lid (or perhaps Smith's ubiquitous turban) were firmly held in place by some unknown force.