Here we go midweek again, and I’m excited to be able to lay another All 45 Mix on the Flea Market Funk family. I’ve got a ton more in me, including some guest mixes, so stay tuned for that. This next record I picked up over the last few weeks. It’s kind of funny too, because I get records from all over, and in some particular spots, dudes are really trying to give it a go. They’ll buy whole record collections, and put every Samba, bad 80’s, and Big Band records out for sale. They will charge inflated prices for common records. They will take a major label pressing of a record and turn around and sell me the private label record (that the artist sold out of his trunk). Most of all, they will talk to me about Funk and Soul like I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about. That’ how I got this record. There’s more in the Jazz genre than John Coltrane (although if I find them on the cheap I always buy them). I don’t claim to be an expert, I just like what I like, and know what I know. I buy records to play, and I like good music. I’m not paying a grand for a record, sorry, so I will not pay an inflated E Bay price for a record I’m gonna play out. The rant is over. But I digress, we will now get into some Lonnie Smith and “See Saw” on Blue Note Records from 1969.
Dr. Lonnie Smith was born in 1942 in Lackawanna, New York. His family was musically inclined, and Smith got involved with the church through Gospel singing, as well as in vocal groups in the 1950’s. He started out playing the trumpet, but he switched to Hammond B3. Self taught on the organ (from listening to Bill Doggett and Jimmy Smith records), he immediately became an expert at it, somewhat of a local legend on the organ. Playing at Buffalo’s famous Pine Grill, got the attention of players such as George Benson and Jack McDuff. This drove him to go to NYC (as so many Jazz cats did in that era) to play. With Benson, there was an instant connection on and off stage, and Smith became part of the George Benson Quartet in 1966. They released two records as a quartet before Smith would venture out solo. When Finger Lickin’ Good (B Boys steal that name from Check Your Head?) came out on Columbia in 1967, Smith had Benson on Guitar, Melvin Sparks on Guitar, Marion Booker on Drums, and Ronnie Cuber on Saxophone. It was his hook up with Lou Donaldson that started his long relationship with Blue Note. Check out Alligator Boogaloo, Mr. Shing-A-Ling, and Midnight Creeper if you need proof. Smith’s presence at this time at Blue Note was important, and he churned out Soul Jazz records such as Think! , this full length Turning Point . He would also put out Move Your Hand and Live! At Club Mozambique (where I first discovered him). I’d highly recommend that record if you haven’t checked it out. Smith worked with the best of the best in Jazz: Lee Morgan to Blue Mitchell to Lou Donaldson to Norman Connors to Idris Muhammad to Ron Carter to Reuben Wilson to Jimmy McGriff and beyond. His Soul Jazz sides made his East Coast presence in the Jazz community grow country and world wide. In the 70’s Smith would convert to Sikhism. This new, life changing outlook did not deter his touring. He played smaller venues with a variety of sidemen. I’m wondering if he ever played the West side of Asbury Park, NJ, which boasted up to 40 clubs back in the day. Smith went on to put out records on Kudu, Groove Merchant, and even TK among others. He is a legend on the B3 and keeps great company with Groove Holmes, Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, and Shirley Scott. He’s easily one of my top Jazz organ players, just an unmistakable sound. Still touring and playing today at the age of 67, he shows no signs of slowing down.
“See Saw” is a cover of the Don Covay/ Steve Cropper tune. From the slow moving Smith organ in the beginning to Leo Morris’s drums, this killer piece of Soul Jazz changes moods into som Jazz Funk all through out the 5 minutes and 45 seconds of the side. Lee Morgan shines on this people as well. His trumpet solo is just what the good Doctor ordered, among the blazing guitar of Melvin Sparks. Let’s not forget players such as Bernie Mauphin on Tenor Sax and Julian Preister on Trombone. These cats aren’t too shabby either. This tune is well worth the price of admission itself, but the rest of the LP is a hit too. While Aretha Franklin made her mark with this song as well as Smith, I think the Smith side is the better of the two. Not to take anything away from Lady Soul, but I have a soft spot for the Hammond B-3. This my friends, was a good score. Enjoy and I’ll see you again soon. Keep Diggin’!!