Recorded on May 21, 1970, at Detroit's Club Mozambique, this was shelved and remained unreleased until it was retrieved for CD issue in 1995. It's odd that Blue Note decided to sit on it for so long, because it ranks as one of Lonnie's better sets. The band, featuring George Benson on guitar, is relaxed and funky without being in your face about it, and unlike much soul-jazz of the time, most of the material is original, Smith having penned six of the eight numbers. Although the riffs often owe a lot to James Brown, this is definitely at least as much jazz as soul, with Lonnie taking a rare vocal turn on "Peace of Mind."
- Richie Unterberger (All Music Guide)
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Lonnie Smith is more than the picture jazz history currently paints of him. He has always been associated with Lou Donaldson; yet when one digs beneath the surface, new and amazing facts surface about this great jazz organist.
The story before the story is truly unique. Lonnie is from Buffalo, NY, and began his ' o musical life as a trumpet student. He then formed a vocal group after completing high ' school. But fate intervened and soon Lonnie was entranced by the Hammond organ. Lonnie is an Organist and not a pianist turned organist.
He began developing his own personal style because of his affinity for R&B and soon became something of a local attraction. He moved to New York and sat in one night with Jack McDuff's band and lo and behold he connected with Jack's guitarist George Benson. The two became a team once George left Jack's band and soon a Columbia record contract followed.
The George Benson Quartet featuring Lonnie Smith recorded two albums for Columbia (IT'S Uptown  and Cookbook ) and Lonnie was given a chance to record an album of his own. The result was Finger Lickin' Good (Columbia CS 9496-1967). It included a cast of musicians the he would associate with for the next five years: George Benson, Ronnie Cuber, Melvin Sparks and Marion Booker.
The George Benson group worked a lot during 1966-67, so Lonnie was 'established' by the time of his fateful association with Lou Donaldson. As Lonnie recalls the events "Lou was at Rudy's (Van Gelder Studios) working on a Blue Note date and he just couldn't get the 'thing' he was looking for from the guys on the session. So George Benson and I were called in by Duke Pearson and that was the Alligator Boogaloo record."
And in the tradition of Blue Note, Lonnie was being scouted by Frank Wolff (who was duly impressed at the Donaldson session). "Duke Pearson would call me," Lonnie remembers, "and say 'Frank really digs you man, and I think he's going to sign you'." Sure enough, on July 23, 1968, Lonnie recorded the first of four released albums. Think (BST 84290) reunited him with Melvin Sparks and Marion Booker (with Lee Morgan and David 'Fathead' Newman), and Turning Point (BST 84313) followed (with Morgan, Benny Maupin, Sparks and Idris Muhammed).
During this time, Lonnie had a steady working band, and would play some of the better neighborhood jazz rooms around the northeast. Included in his working bands were saxophonists Ronnie Cuber, Dave Hubbard, Bill Easley and George Adams; trumpeter Donald Hahn; guitarists George Benson and Larry McGee; and drummers Joe Dukes, Sylvester Goshay, Phillip Terrell, Marion Booker, Jimmy Lovelace, Charles Crosby, Art Gore, Norman Connors and Bobby Durham.
Lonnie recorded Move Your Hand (BST 84326) with his working band at the 'Club Harlem' in Atlantic City, New Jerey on August 8, 1969. "Move Your Hand" became a surprise hit and after recording his last studio album for Blue Note (Drives CDP 28266) he embarked on another live recording with his band. It is believed that Blue Note was going to release it at the time, (and probably gave it a catalog number ), but it remained on the shelf for 25 years.
The band assembled at Cornelius Watt's 'Club Mozambique', located in Detroit, Michigan. (Mr. Watt's also owned another club the musicians liked to work, the 'Jazz West'). "I loved those clubs" Lonnie told me. "Those days were times of happiness. The people were up for the music, they were excited. They would even help you set up your equipment. A different time altogether from today". The 'Mozambique' became home base for Lonnie. "I lived in Detroit at that time and worked both rooms regularly. Grant Green (who also lived there) would come down and try to get me to go on the road with him." (Current Blue Note artist Joe Lovano remembers all night drives back and forth to the 'Mozambique' from Cleveland to play with Lonnie when he was a teenager).
"George Benson just happened to have some time off, so I wanted him on this date. Ronnie Cuber, Dave Hubbard and Joe Dukes were my regular guys. Dave joined the group when George came back in 1970. Dave's from Baltimore and is still a close friend. Joe Dukes came on after he left Jack McDuff. So we were pretty tight at the time. The percussionists were cats who lived in Detroit and added more sound to the date. And of course, Ronnie and I had made all of those gigs together."
The music recorded that night is still as fresh and funky today as it was on May 21, 1970. It sounds like a happy reunion between old friends; no competition, just an air of fun and good times. "Frank Wolff (Blue Note co-founder and A&R man at that time) loved me, and he loved to dance to my slow funky tunes. We used to go everywhere together and hang out. Blue Note was the best at that time - the best sound, covers and musicians. I was proud to be a part of the label."
There is no need to go into detail about the music on these sides; sit back and enjoy it in the spirit of Mr. Watt's, the good groovy citizens of Detroit, and most of all, the beautiful music that Lonnie Smith and his band provide.
- Bob Belden