Lonnie Smith Think!
Original release 1969 Blue Note
This 2019 reissue, Blue Note 80 Vinyl Reissue Series
This week the world of music lost one of the greats of the jazz organ, “Dr.” Lonnie Smith. I regret never having caught him live during his return to the spotlight, as he had quite the career. He was part of a second (or third?) wave of soul-jazz organists that hit the scene in the latter half of the 1960s. Continue reading
Mambos, cha chas, son montunos, pachangas, Latin jazz… Tito Puente played all of those, and he apparently never liked the catch-all term “salsa” (and he stayed out of Fania Records’ orbit, for the most part). And he has a point – each of the sub-genres and rhythms (and there are many more than those listed here) have their own backstory and sensibility….
Horace Tapscott Quintet
The Giant Is Awakened
1969 original release, Flying Dutchman
2020, this reissue Real Gone Music RGM-1012
Juneteenth is now a federal holiday in the United States. I don’t wish to take away from the significance of that recognition, especially for those old enough to remember the days of Jim Crow. But you’ll have to indulge my skepticism about whether this represents a movement toward genuine reckoning and reparations, or whether its a gesture to make white folks feel better. But while you have your red drink of choice today, and reflect on history and which parts of the past are not past, maybe you can also enjoy this monumental album from the Horace Tapscott Quintet, featuring Arthur Blythe on saxophone. Tapscott was engaged with a variety of endeavors aligned with a radical black political vision, from the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and the UMGAA, to supplying music for an album by Elaine Brown of the Panthers.
Chester Thompson – Powerhouse 2021 Real Gone Music RGM-1202 / Original Release 1971 Black Jazz
This is a short (seriously short, only 27 minutes) but sweet LP from future Tower of Power and Santana organist, Chester Thompson. Not to be confused with the drummer Chester Thompson, who toured with Genesis in the post-Peter Gabriel years and also played in Santana’s 1980’s lineup at the same time as this Chester, which caused this Chester to start using his middle initial to help people keep them straight. There is also a song called Mr. T that predates the A-Team by a decade. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, the music:
Marion Brown – Porto Novo Original release 1969 as Polydor 583 724
Reissued in 1975 as Arista/Freedom AL 1001
This reissue, 2020 ORG Music / Freedom (ORGM-2149)
I thought a change of pace was warranted here to correspond with a new chapter in my life. Marion Brown played pretty “free” but he could still swing as well as squonk. He made this album a few years after moving to Europe in the late 60s. It’s hard at times to believe this is just three people. The lively, engaging drum and cymbal work by a young Hans Bennink deserves special mention here. Originally released with a different cover on the Polydor label, this 2020 Record Store Day reissue uses the image from the mid-70s Arista version but is pressed on gorgeous red vinyl. I’ve included a variety of alternate covers below just for fun. Continue reading
It’s a total coincidence (or is it?) that my first two posts about the Black Jazz reissues have been by keyboardists, without any brass or reeds in their band. Weird, eh? This record, “2nd Wave” is great stuff by a one-and-done mysterious key tickler, Roland Haynes. There are actually two Fender Rhodes players here, so that should be welcomed by those of you for whom there is Never Enough Rhodes. Not much is known about Roland Haynes, a situation that is not cleared up by the liner notes by Pat Thomas in the insert. Continue reading