|Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College continues its 2016-17 Jazz series on Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 8pm with 2017 NEA Jazz Master Dr. Lonnie Smith. An authentic master and guru of the Hammond B-3 organ for over five decades, he has been featured on over seventy albums, and has recorded and performed with a virtual “Who’s Who” of the greatest jazz, blues and R&B giants in the industry.
Performances of The Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio will be at the Kumble Theater, located at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus in downtown Brooklyn, not at Brooklyn Center’s regular venue, Whitman Theatre at Brooklyn College. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at BrooklynCenter.org or by calling the box office at 718-951-4500 (Tue-Sat, 1pm-6pm).
Dr. Lonnie Smith is an unparalleled musician, composer, performer and recording artist. Born in Buffalo, New York, Lonnie was blessed with the gift of music. Through his mother, he was immersed in gospel, blues and jazz at an early age. In his teens, he sang in several vocal groups including his own, the Supremes, formed long before Motown’s eventual iconic act of the same name. Lonnie also played trumpet and other instruments at school and was a featured soloist. In the late ’50s- with the encouragement of Art Kubera, who owned a local music store that he would visit daily-young Lonnie was given the opportunity to learn how to play a Hammond organ. By completely immersing himself in the records of organists such as Wild Bill Davis, Bill Doggett, and Jimmy Smith, as well as paying rapt attention to the church organ, a young Lonnie began to find his musical voice. “Even though I didn’t know how, I was able to play right from the beginning,” Dr. Smith reflects. “I learned how to work the stops and that was it. It’s a passion for me, so everything else came naturally.” Because of Mr. Kubera’s kindness, Dr. Lonnie often refers to Art as his “angel.”
The Doctor’s first gigs were at Buffalo’s hottest jazz club, the Pine Grill, where he rapidly garnered the attention of folks like Jack McDuff, Lou Donaldson, George Benson, and the booking agent Jimmy Boyd. George Benson was looking for an organist for his quartet and enlisted Lonnie. The group soon relocated to New York City, where they quickly established a reputation as innovators in Harlem clubs and throughout the area. After appearing on several Benson albums, Lonnie went on to make his first recording as a leader, Finger Lickin’ Good, for Columbia Records in 1966. Shortly thereafter, Smith was scooped up to record by saxophonist Lou Donaldson, for whom Lonnie would appear on several epic Blue Note LPs, including the million-seller, Alligator Boogaloo. Blue Note clearly liked what they heard and inked the organist to his own recording contract, a deal which would produce the soul jazz classics Think!, Turning Point, Move Your Hand, Drives and Live at Club Mozambique (released many years later).
Since leaving the Blue Note stable in the ’70s, Dr. Smith has recorded for a slew of record labels, including Kudu, Groove Merchant, T.K., Scufflin’, Criss Cross and Palmetto, ascending the charts many times. His unpredictable, insatiable musical taste illustrates that no genre is safe, as Lonnie has recorded everything from covers of the Beatles, the Stylistics and the Eurythmics, to tribute albums of Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane and Beck, all by employing ensembles ranging from a trio to a fifteen-piece big band. Moreover, many of Doc’s recent compositions reflect dramatic ethereal qualities and orchestration that elicit movie scores or soundtracks.
Dr. Smith has been amused to find himself sampled in rap, dance and house grooves while being credited as a forefather of acid jazz. When questioned about his consistent interest in music some consider outside the jazz “mainstream,” Lonnie shrugs. “Jazz is American Classical,” he proclaims. “And this music is a reflection of what’s happening at the time… The organ is like the sunlight, rain and thunder…it’s all the worldly sounds to me!”
In 2012, Dr. Smith launched his own record label Pilgrimage Inc., and in 2015, resigned with the iconic Blue Note Records label. Dr. Lonnie Smith’s latest CD has been released on Blue Note. (2016)
Many awards have followed since 1969, when Downbeat magazine named Dr. Lonnie Smith “Top Organist” of the year. 2003-2014 he was awarded “Organist/Keyboardist of the Year” by the Jazz Journalist Association. The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame and Jazz Organ Fellowship have also inducted Dr. Lonnie, and in 2015 he received the Village Music Legends Award. He is scheduled to receive the NEA Jazz Masters Award, the highest honor in jazz, on April 3, 2017.
The Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio is part of Brooklyn Center’s 2016-17 Con Edison Music Masters Series, which also includes Emeline Michel in concert (Mar 4, 2017 at 8pm), Patti Austin: Ella Now and Then (Apr 22, 2017 at 8pm), the Yosvany Terry Afro-Cuban Sextet (May 6, 2017 at 8pm), and Chaka Khan (May 13, 2017 at 7:30pm).
Visit BrooklynCenter.org for a complete season lineup.
Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio
Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 8pm
Kumble Theater at Long Island University
1 University Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Box Office: BrooklynCenter.org or 718-951-4500 (Tue- Sat, 1pm – 6pm)
Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts’ presentation of The Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio is made possible through the Jazz Touring Network program of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support for Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts’ 2016-17 Jazz Series is provided by Con Edison and WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM.
Multibuy discounts (four or more shows) save 15% off individual ticket prices (not applicable for The Bremen Town Musicians). Multibuyers enjoy flexible ticket exchanges and discounted parking for purchased performances. A 50% discount for children ages 12 and under is offered for select performances. Discounts are also available for seniors, students, Brooklyn College faculty/staff/alumni, active/retired military personnel, and groups. $10 student rush tickets available day-of-show.
About Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts
Founded in 1954, Brooklyn Center for the PerformingArts at Brooklyn College presents outstanding performing arts and arts education programs, reflective of Brooklyn’s diverse communities, at affordable prices. Each season, Brooklyn Center welcomes over 65,000 people to the 2,400 seat Whitman Theatre, including up to 45,000 schoolchildren from over 300 schools who attend their SchoolTime series, one of the largest arts-in-education programs in the borough.
Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts’ programs are supported, in part, by public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Brooklyn Center’s 2016-17 season is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of
Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Major support for the 2016-17 season is provided by: Brooklyn College, Con Edison, TD Bank, National Grid, The Howard Gilman Foundation, the Jazz Touring Network, the Alice Lawrence Foundation, the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and the TD Charitable Foundation. Additional support provided by CNG Publications, The Brooklyn Eagle, Brooklyn Media Group, and WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM. The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott New York Brooklyn is the official hotel of Brooklyn Center’s 2016-17 season. Backstage catering is graciously provided by Applebee’s.
Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts gratefully acknowledges generous support from New York State Assembly members Annette Robinson and Helene Weinstein; New York City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams; New York City Council Cultural Affairs Committee Chair Jimmy Van Bramer; New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Tom Finkelpearl.