The word legendary. Tossed around like a flea – bit peanut monkey sometimes.
In the case of Dr. Lonnie Smith – it is he who is tossing the primate around …
Commencing his career in the late fifties alongside George Benson – Smith used his knowledge as a multi-instrumentalist and student of Jazz, Blues, Gospel and R&B to rise to the top of the Jazz world as master of the Hammond B3 organ.
Dr. Lonnie Smith has been the most sought after player in the Jazz world for over four decades and at Le Gesu as part of The Jazz festival, the good doctor and his trio showed why.
Jonathan Kreisberg and Jonathan Blake are both powerhouses in their own right. Trading unique craftsmanship with each other with Smith holding back to let them shine. If not for Smith’s ‘ jolt you from the seats’ playing – Kresiberg and Blake almost legendary themselves. Blake especially on the drums, combining fierceness and finesse – power and purring to go with a genius’ work.
Some Jazz leaders are perfectionists by birth. Not allowing others to breathe within a song as their visions are superior to others in their own advanced minds. Dr. Lonnie Smith is a genius as he paints with his ‘paint box’ in front of him yet he allows his trio to paint with him. He is the teacher yet his lessons are by participation and not by dissociation. Guiding – yes. Ruling with a steel hand – indefinably no.
What some have done for their instruments ( Hendrix on guitar) in the public eye – Smith has done for the Hammond B3 organ in not only the Jazz world, the music world period.
They don’t give the NEC Jazz Award to just anyone after all.
There are so many female vocalists on the planet. Great ones, good ones, average ones and yes – bad ones.
Beth Hart is in a class all by herself.
Think of the soul of Joss Stone. The power and rawness of Janis Joplin. The sweetness and velour of Adele. The danger of Amy Winehouse. Add the above together and Beth Hart is the sum of all their parts.
At Theatre Maisonneuve as part of The Jazz Festival – Hart displayed emotion and honesty. She wears her life on her sleeve and tells the tales between songs. It has not been an easy life for Hart and self admitting (on stage last night) – she takes medication to ‘make her less crazy’. That part of her personality is what propels the talent.Her demons shine through via pain, love and anger. Her vocals are the vehicle as she rides away from her very own highway to Hell.
Love Gangster, Your Heart Is as Black as Night ( Melody Gardot), Chocolate Jesus ( Tom Waits), Good as It Gets and I’ll Take Care of You. Just a few of the tunes which Hart uses as her very own ‘Morgan Freeman’. Narration through art and poignant lyrics which make hairs stand on end through Hart’s effortless singing and the band’s tight stops and starts. At one moment – a casual fan can hate Hart for her brash ‘barroom’ chat and ‘honky tonk woman’ appearance. In less than a second later – the same fans fall in love as Hart’s tenderness arises like the sun from the eastern shore.
Drummer Bill Ransom, Bassist Bob Marinelli and guitarist Jon Nichols back Hart with so much perception. A compliment to Hart’s sometimes ‘all over the place’ chatter and forgetfulness (the set-list).
Marinelli appears like a young Sam Elliot. Stoically keeping both time and Hart on track within the battery of himself and Ransom. Nichols supplies the chords and screeching solos when called upon. Amy Winehouse had The Dap Kings to make her shine. Beth Hart has her band to make her the star. That’s their job and they do it more than well.
Following an eighteen song set with odes to her Mom in a very powerful Mama This One’s for You and an effervescent Leave the Light On – emotions circulating the theater were on high alert. Hart won everyone over with her simple recipe. Truth through song and truth through words. If anyone in attendance did not want to bring Hart home to take care of her, they were not human …