DR LONNIE SMITH — Move Your Hand (review)

DR LONNIE SMITH — Move Your Hand album cover Live album · 1970 · Soul Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Sean Trane
Recorded over one gig in Harlem in August 69, you’d have a hard time believing that Move Your Hand was indeed recorded live, not least because one can’t hear much (if any at all) of the audience. That night’s line did not feature many big stars like on some of the Doctor’s studio album: you’d have to be pretty well versed in second division sidemen (no disrespect whatsoever to them, though), as you won’t find anyone that participated on Turning Point or Think! The album is a rather short set made from two well-known covers and two Smith compositions.

The two covers are generally smooth renditions ala Benson or Deodato (although the latter had a bite that was unequalled), but both the Lieber-Stoller-penned Charlie Brown and the Donovan Sunshine Superman are very enjoyable on first discovery, they don’t really survive freshly repeated listens, as they sound a bit like lounge or piano bar (read organ-bar, of course) pieces, because the jazzy arrangements are just too gentle and lack energy and both had overstayed their welcome halfway through. As for the two Smith pieces, Layin’ In The Cut is also a gentle piece, but Smith’s organ finally gets a little space to expand and the two hornmen enhance his playing with excellent tense lines that adds a bit of drama. As for the more energetic title track, Smith is throwing a few verses and wails that add a bit to the track’s soul added to Goshay’s congas, to make it the album’s best track.

Thrown n as a bonus track (apparently taken from the same gig) on the CD, the aptly-titled 12-mins Dancing In The Easy Groove is indeed just that, a long groove to allow for lengthy solos, and it actually fits quite well with the rest of the album it was thrown upon. Normally, this 60’s & 70’s instrumental JR/F nuthead should love this kind of music, but something is simply lacking: real energy, a sense of urgency, a lack of purpose, a will to challenge, instead of just please. Just too gentle and with to few substance to it for me, and to be honest, a little too mainstream for the Blue Note label it was released on.

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