Dr. Lonnie Smith: Sweet Dreams
Dr. Lonnie Smith (organ)
Rise Up! (Palmetto 2138)
Matt Balitsaris (guitar), Herlin Riley (drums).
Composed by Annie Lennox & Dave Stewart.
Recorded: Buck's County, PA; May 5-6, 2008
Rating: 100/100 (learn more)
The nuances that made much pop music of the ‘80s so much fun to listen to are carefully deconstructed in this voodoo séance treatment by Dr. Lonnie Smith and his band. Smith’s introduction with fluty, music-box-like tinkering followed by watery whole-tone runs sets up the entrance of a bass drum and tambourine beating out a dirge rhythm. Saxophonist Donald Harrison solos impressively with tasteful phrasing. Smith is up next with a solo marked by economical note choices. Even if he doesn’t shred with fast runs here, funkiness is always in good supply. His solo rises in intensity as he moves farther up the upper manual’s range and as he adds grit to his already growling tone. The last solo, by guitarist Balitsaris is full of twangy blues expression. This is a theatrical version of an already dramatic pop hit, and Smith & Co. have made sure to keep their soulfulness at center stage.
Reviewer: David Tenenholtz