Desert Island Jazz
Dr Lonnie Smith (2013)

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(Photo by Benedict Smith)

Dr Lonnie Smith was born in Lackawanna, New York, into a musical family with a vocal group and a radio show. It was his mother who introduced him to Gospel, Classical Music, and jazz.

Lonnie's first instrument was the trumpet, but he hung around the Buffalo store of Art Kubera ("Complete Line of Accordions, Sheet Music and Necessities") until finally Kubera showed him a Hammond B-3. Kubera told Lonnie "If you can haul this thing out of here, it's yours!" Lonnie called it "The Beast", and he's pretty much self-taught on the instrument that made him famous.

In the 1960s, Lonnie moved to New York City, where he met George Benson, with whom he formed the George Benson Quartet in 1966.

After a couple of hit records with George, Lonnie went out on his own. The following year, he met saxophonist Lou Donaldson, who got him on to Blue Note Records, and into hits of his own: "Alligator Boogaloo" with Donaldson, "Think" with David "Fathead" Newman, Lee Morgan, and Melvin Sparks, and "Turning Point" with Morgan and Sparks.

But in the 1970s, Lonnie kept a lower profile, cutting records for small labels, and taking to the road. There was lots of touring, and on any given night his sidemen could include Ronnie Cuber, Bill Easley, George Adams, George Benson, Marion Booker or Bobby Donaldson.

Also in the 1970s—showman that he is—Lonnie began sporting a turban, hence his nickname, "The Turbanator".
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 Art Tatum Classic Early Solos (1934-1937) Moonglow GRP
# 2 John Coltrane Crescent Lonnie's Lament Impulse
# 3 Erroll Garner The Complete Savoy Master Takes Yesterdays Savoy
# 4 Ahmad Jamal At the Pershing Poinciana Argo
# 5 Thelonious Monk Ken Burns Jazz Ruby, My Dear Columbia Legacy
# 6 Thelonious Monk Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane Epistrophy Jazzland
# 7 Miles Davis Sketches of Spain Solea Columbia
Book "Forensics (mysteries) or (a book of) Sudoku"
Luxury Item "My baby ... the organ"
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