Dr. Lonnie Smith
Organist Lonnie Smith has often been confused with keyboardist/pianist Lonnie Liston Smith -- and, in fact, more than a few retailers have wrongly assumed that they're one and the same.
In the mid-'60s, the Hammond hero earned recognition for his membership in George Benson's classic quartet before going on to play with Lou Donaldson (contributing some memorable solos to the alto saxman's hit 1967 album Alligator Bogaloo) and recording enjoyable dates of his own for Blue Note. For all their accessibility and commercial appeal, funk-influenced Smith sessions like 1968's Think and 1970's Drives showed that he could be quite imaginative. Smith, who later became Dr. Lonnie Smith (for "no particular reason," the same reason he gives for why he always wears a turban), remained an inspired representative of soul-jazz and did some solid work with Donaldson in the '90s. The 21st century saw him step up the pace, releasing several albums, including a tribute to Beck, 2003's Boogaloo to Beck; an album of reworked and modernized jazz standards, 2006's Jungle Soul; and 2009's Rise Up! Smith and his trio members -- Jonathan Kreisberg, guitar; Jamire Williams, drums -- continued a relentless and tireless touring and recording schedule; he issued Spiral on 2010 on Palmetto with Matt Balitsaris producing. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi