Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Reference 160M Amplifier (February 2019)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)

Blue Note 61898
Format: CD

Musical Performance

Sound Quality

Overall Enjoyment

Don Was, president of Blue Note Records, has been helping keep the label current by signing young musicians such as the pianist Robert Glasper. He’s also been keeping its history alive by bringing on musicians who are well established. In some cases, they have prior history with the label. Charles Lloyd, who released two discs on Blue Note in the last two years, had a brief association with the label in the 1980s. Dr. Lonnie Smith recorded four LPs for Blue Note in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and in 1995 the label released a 1970 Smith recording from its archives, Live at Club Mozambique.

Smith’s greasy Hammond B3 has graced recordings by George Benson and others, and he’s led quite a few sessions himself. Evolution, his 24th release, features Glasper on one tune and Joe Lovano, a longtime Blue Note artist, on two others. Smith wrote five of the seven tracks, and covers Thelonious Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser,” and the Rodgers and Hammerstein chestnut “My Favorite Things.”

Smith’s “Play It Back” first appeared on Live at Club Mozambique. The tune is representative of the kind of funky jazz Smith was playing on his own records and with Lou Donaldson 40 years ago. This time around, with two drummers on hand, Joe Dyson and Jonathan Blake, the beat is even more emphatic. Glasper’s chords harmonically expand the music, and his lengthy solo is complex while remaining firmly in the groove. Trumpeter Keyon Harrold, tenor-sax player John Ellis, and Smith all shine in generously long solos, and the 14-minute track’s energy never flags.


Joe Lovano plays a mezzo-soprano sax in G in “Afrodesia,” his recording debut when he played the tune with Smith on a 1975 Groove Merchant LP. The original recording had just a hint of disco; this one is slower and edgier. The two drummers keep the groove firmly intact, and the solos from all, including trumpeter Maurice Brown, are well developed and moving. Someone should put words to the slow jam “For Heaven’s Sake,” another sextet piece, which Smith wrote years ago but records for the first time here. Terrific solos all around, especially from Smith, but Jonathan Kreisberg also does a nice turn on guitar.

“Talk About This” is slow-burn funk, with a muscular, fluid solo by Maurice Brown and an expansive, flashy feature from Smith in a fine pyrotechnic display that is strongly based in melody. Smith stretches out again in “African Suite,” but gives Ellis ample space to develop a strong statement on flute. In this track Smith uses other electronic keyboards to create interesting sound effects, and Dyson and Blake work together beautifully to give it an effectively polyrhythmic backdrop.

In two tracks, Smith is in a more traditional organ-trio setting, with guitarist Kreisberg and drummer Blake. “Straight, No Chaser” is a feature for Kreisberg, who often gigs with Smith, and Smith fires off a powerful solo. Smith uses electronic keyboards for the stately opening of “My Favorite Things,” which leads into a swinging version of the tune that makes it sound bright and new. Blake is outstanding in both tracks; his ride cymbal sizzles, and his finely tuned sense of dynamics helps propel Smith and Kreisberg.

The instruments could have used more space between them, and in some tracks, such as “Play It Back,” the bottom end is a bit murky -- but I found the sound of Evolution very listenable overall, and less compressed than, say, some Blue Note reissues. As for the music, I recommend it without reservation. At 73, Lonnie Smith is as inventive and exciting as any of the younger musicians he plays with here. It’s amazing how fresh, even hip, this music is.

. . . Joseph Taylor