All In My Mind (Blue Note)

Dr. Lonnie Smith

Released January 12, 2018

DownBeat Four-and-a-Half-Star Review




Hammond B-3 organ legend Dr. Lonnie Smith has announced the release for All in My Mind, a spirited live trio album that the NEA Jazz Master recorded during his 75th birthday celebration at the Jazz Standard in New York City this past summer. The album is the follow-up to his acclaimed 2016 release Evolution, which marked Smith’s return to Blue Note Records where he first made a name for himself with a run of classic soul jazz albums between 1968-70.

At 75 years old Smith still reigns as a master of innovation and experimentation. He may have been away from Blue Note for 46 years, but he perfectly fits in with the current mission of label president Don Was to present the future movements of jazz as well as honoring those who forged the tradition. “Dr. Lonnie Smith returns to the Blue Note label with an album that reveals the enduring appeal of organ soul,” raved The Wall Street Journal in a 2016 review of Evolution, adding that the album “showcases a variety of organ-soul stylings [and] demonstrates the versatility and currency of the style.”

A connoisseur of groove and a consummate showman, Smith wanted to record All in My Mind in a live setting because, as he says, “It’s so hard to capture what I’m feeling at the moment in the studio. Hearing me live is catching me playing in the moment. It’s a good vibe. It’s a loving situation.”

“My group is a brotherhood, a dedicated family,” Smith says of his trio with guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Johnathan Blake. “They are the heartbeat of the music. They know what I’m trying to do, and they enhance what I play. I play in the moment all the time, and they adjust and are there for me.”

All in My Mind opens with a powerful rendering of Wayne Shorter’s “JuJu” from the saxophonist’s 1965 Blue Note album of the same name. Smith also takes Paul Simon’s hit “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” for a 10-minute joyride with drummer Joe Dyson taking a turn behind the kit, and reworks his own vintage composition “All in My Mind” which features the amazing vocal range and spirit of Alicia Olatuja.

Smith reflects, “You play life, you tell your story. I know who I am, and that means so much.” As for his return to Blue Note, he singles out Don Was who produced Evolution and All in My Mind. “I’ve worked with producers who don’t understand the musicians they’re working with. But Don wants me to be myself, he understands and respects creativity. It’s a reminder of the old days when Frank Wolff used to be the same.”

Track Listing:

1. Juju (Wayne Shorter) 08:18

2. Devika (Sarina Grant / Dave Hubbard) 06:55

3. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (Paul Simon) 09:27

4. On a Misty Night (Tadd Dameron) 07:44

5. Alhambra (Dr. Lonnie Smith) 09:51

6. All in My Mind (Dr. Lonnie Smith) 08:20

7. Up Jumped Spring (Freddie Hubbard) 05:57


Dr. Lonnie Smith: organ, vocals

Jonathan Kreisberg: guitar

Johnathan Blake: drums

Joe Dyson: drums (3)

Alicia Olatuja: vocals (6)

Recorded at Jazz Standard, New York, NY

Producer: Don Was

Executive Producer: Holly Case

Engineers: Geoff Countryman and Tyler McDiarmid

Mixing: Mike Marciano

Mastering: Ian Sefchick

Art Direction: Nicole Frantz

Design: Christopher Lee Lyons

Photography: Mathieu Bitton


Dr. Lonnie Smith is back with more soul-jazz grooves and consciousness-expanding jams. Recorded at the Jazz Standard in New York during the Hammond B-3 organ great’s 75th birthday celebration, All In My Mind captures his working trio of guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Johnathan Blake in high gear before a spirited, packed house. The group comes out of the gate with a meditation on Wayne Shorter’s “Juju,” which introduces Kreisberg’s considerable chops and Blake’s rolling undercurrent and powerful polyrhythmic accents while also showcasing Smith’s searching abandon on the B-3. The ballad “Devika” is a soulful change of pace from the opening burner, while “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” is Smith’s gospel-tinged take on the Paul Simon classic with guest drummer Joe Dyson providing the percolating undertow. The trio glides through a mellow version of Tadd Dameron’s “On A Misty Night” with Blake on brushes and Smith pulling out all the stops in dramatic fashion. Smith’s Spanishtinged “Alhambra” is a showcase for his expansive knowledge of digital sampling (he emulates a muted trumpet here) and Expressionist use of colors. A swinging, highly interactive romp through Freddie Hubbard’s “Up Jumped Spring” is vintage ’60s organ-lounge fare; the minor-key title track (a far more cathartic version of a Smith tune originally done as a rollicking stride-piano number on his 1977 Funk Reaction) takes the audience where no organ lounge has gone before, courtesy of Alicia Olatuja’s chilling vocals and Smith’s existential message. It’s another vibrant offering from the ageless doctor.

Bill Milkowski (DownBeat)