DR LONNIE SMITH — Think! (review)

DR LONNIE SMITH — Think! album cover Album · 1969 · Soul Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Sean Trane
One of the Doctor’s more respected release, Think! is seen by some as the companion album to Turning Point ( I kind of beg to differ, though), even if the horns lack the prestige of its sibling. Indeed, if Newman is no Priester or Maupin, but he’s no slouch either. As for the rest of the band, you’ll find once more guitarist Sparks, trumpeter Morgan, and of course, the Doctor himself (although the “Dr” thing came sometimes later) alongside a bunch of very meriting lesser-knowns. Recorded in one session in the NY dog days of summer of 68, the album is one of those over-rated icons that abound the Blue Note later-60’s catalogue.

Opening on the South-African master Masekela, Son of Ice Bag is lengthy and energetic jazz that has everything to get you grooving, including over-mixed drums (the Van Gelder remaster-remix?) and cool horns to boot. Once the following slower-starting Call Of The Wild awakes, the two congas and the timbales are driving you quickly insane with an extra-rapid rhythm and the remaining 11 minutes are used for soloing and jamming. A nice and smooth rendition of Aretha’s Think! track can bring a smile upon first discovery, but it won’t survive well repeated listens, unlike the trad Three Blind Mice piece, which seems to have a purpose other than just filling time and tapes in recording studios. The closing Slouchin’ is probably wisely titled, because we’re in a gentle jazz, where the over-mixed drums returns, but again the groove is there and the gentle instrumental interplay gets a gentle ray of the spotlight, but it’s really nothing to write home bout.

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. Don’t get me wrong, this is pleasant enough to even have non-jazz listeners enjoying it, but for the demanding jazz buff, it’s just too lightweight, like most (all?) of the Doctor’s vinyl prescriptions.
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