Monday, February 21, 2005
Dr. Lonnie Smith - Spinning Wheel
Spinning Wheel - Lonnie Smith
So, mixing it up again a bit this week as I dip my toe in the waters of Jazz/Funk fusion. What better way to start it off than with an absolute classic and a song that's had it's beats sampled so many times you'd think it was in the hiphop producers starter pack.
First things first, this is not the legendary Lonnie Liston Smith despite the similarity in names. Dr Lonnie Smith was also a keyboardist but of the Hammond organ variety. Making a name for himself in George Benson's quartet in the 60's he went on to release a couple of funk/jazz fusion albums in the 70's on the ever reliable Blue Note. Surprisingly enough, Mr Smith isn't actually a qualified MD, legend has it that the moniker "Dr" came from his reputation of being able to doctor up fellow musicians music. You can read a full biography here.
The track I have for you today is taken from his 1970 album Drives and is nearer the funk end of the spectrum of fusion. I've always loved the playfulness of this track set in motion brilliantly by the combination of Smith's organ playing and the lively horn playing of, I think, Dave Hubbard and Ronnie Cuber. The track swings back and forth throughout and is a rare example of how to keep a piece of music fun and extremely cool at the same time. Check out the change of pace 6 minutes in as well, great example of how to keep jazzy improv from getting lost up it's own ass.
Spinning wheel is available on lots of Blue Note compilations but if you're feeling wealthy you could always pick up a copy of the original album HERE.
Oh yeah, the ongoing saga of downloads on this site is coming to an end. My new computer's being delivered monday and I should have a working site to directly link tracks by the end of next week at the latest.