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Spiral by Dr. Lonnie Smith

Achingly soulful with a hint of apathetic teenage angst, from top to bottom, Spiral drips with an honesty that has been lacking with many of the latest jazz offerings of the past decade. Trimmed out with guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Jamire Williams, Dr. Smith’s current touring band, the tunes on this album run the gauntlet, from Slide Hampton and Frank Loesser to Rodgers and Hart. Not limited by the three man line-up, Spiral is full of textual nuance that rumbles by the listener with each polished track. Kicking the album off is an energized delivery of "Mellow Mood," by the late organ great Jimmy Smith. Almost stealing the show is Kreisberg’s guitar solo. Reserved and calculated, Kreisberg’s solo lines are long and deliberate. Developing through the melody, Kreisberg is able to stack notes effortlessly in the most innovative way. This is a cut that really showcases how fresh and tight this band is. Dr. Smith’s improvisational skills are taken to task on the album’s second track, “I’ve Never Been In Love Before.” On this track, Dr. Smith balances his walking bass line with a relentlessly hip solo, that, along with the drumming of Jamire Williams, swings this tune incredibly hard. This is the reason to really love organ jazz! The album is balanced with two great ballads that are serene and sweet. All too often, artists tend to languish in an energy vacuum with the ballad. Here, we are treated to soft music that is not soft on emotion or energy. Listening closely to “Frame For The Blues,” you will clearly hear Dr. Smith moaning along with each sexualized note as he bends and stretches for every lick. “Sprial,” the albums strongest groove, is sharp with shadowed possibility and dark melodic improvisation by both Dr. Smith and guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg. This track has a veiled sense of depth that is aided with the amped-up reverb incorporated into Williams’ drum sound. It is not everyday that such a well-executed album is released. In its composition, Spiral knocks out every track with imaginative playing and a solid drive. Tracks to listen to: “Mellow Mood,” “I’ve Never Been In Love Before,” “Sweet and Lovely,” “Spiral.”

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Dr. Lonnie Smith
  • CD Title: Spiral
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2010
  • Record Label: Palmetto
  • Rating: Five Stars
Aaron Craven

Born in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Aaron graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor's in music education with an emphasis in string bass performance and a minor in piano performance. While at IUP, Aaron studied double bass with Jeff Mangone. He then went on to graduate from the University of Tennessee with a master's degree in double bass / electric bass performance - studying under Harold (Rusty) Holloway. Prior to moving to Winston-Salem, North Carolina Aaron was assistant principal bass of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and has performed with the Symphony of the Mountains in Kingsport, Tennessee, and the Knoxville Opera. Currently Mr. Craven is a contract player (Double Bass) with the Western Piedmont Symphony and is a freelance bass player throughout the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina.

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