Funky licks and blistering squeals are to be expected of organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, godfather of the Hammond B-3, whose output in the 60s helped define soul-jazz for the era. He’s rarely deviated from his signature jazz and R&B sound and when he does – 2003’s Boogaloo To Beck: A Tribute was a welcome detour – it comes in the form of a record like Evolution, a significant return to the Blue Note label and a tribute to his super-sized talent. The rails are greased by a crackerjack horn section, a pair of power drummers and pumped up guest spots by pianist Robert Glasper and notably saxophonist Joe Lovano on the dreamy ballad, “For Heaven’s Sake.” Guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg is Smith’s foil, delivering wicked, grinding riffs, jangling rhythmic support and lush, melodic solos. Evolution sets itself apart by letting Smith loose on updated originals and fresh tracks like “Talk About This” and “African Suite,” that connect the dots from the pivotal early days to the present, where the Doctor takes the lead as a hip, dynamic authority of modern grooves and moves. (7 tracks; 63 minutes)

 

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