In 2018, Iggy Pop was recording a pair of covers for an upcoming album by the soul-jazz pioneer Dr. Lonnie Smith. At first, the punk icon couldn’t fairly discover the groove, stated the guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg, who was within the studio that day. Then one thing clicked.
“Suddenly, in the middle of the take, it just started sounding really in the pocket, and had all this energy,” Kreisberg recalled. “I turned my head over and looked through the control room glass, to the room he was in, and he had taken off his shirt. He had become Iggy Pop.”
Pop’s covers of Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman” and Timmy Thomas’s “Why Can’t We Live Together” will seem on Smith’s joyous, intimate “Breathe,” due Friday on Blue Note Records. The remainder of the album, which features a four-piece horn part, visitor vocals from Alicia Olatuja and a reconfigured Thelonious Monk tune, comes from per week of 2017 gigs at New York’s now-shuttered Jazz Standard, a run that doubled as a 75th party for “Doc.”
As he nears 80, Smith is merely doing what he’s all the time carried out: collaborating, arranging and taking part in organ with an understated virtuosity that prizes feeling over flash. Not so much has modified since he launched his first album, “Finger-Lickin’ Good Soul Organ,” in 1967. But new listeners — together with one very high-profile rock star — are nonetheless discovering Smith. And his organ hasn’t misplaced an oz of soul.
Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., Smith began on organ when an area instrument store proprietor gave him a Hammond B3. The music of Jimmy Smith and Bill Doggett discovered him on the similar time.
“I just loved the sound” of the instrument, stated Smith, who at the moment resides in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in a telephone interview. “It’s an orchestra. It’s a bass. And it’s a soloist. I mean, you got everything right there.”
Smith moved to New York City within the mid-60s and commenced recording on albums by the guitarist George Benson and the saxophonist Lou Donaldson. His LP with Donaldson — most notably “Alligator Bogaloo” from 1967 and “Everything I Play Is Funky” three years later — turned a part of the inspiration of soul-jazz, an ecstatic, organ-heavy subgenre that fused jazz with funk and R&B. Even with an abundance of fantastic organists on the scene within the ’60s — Smith’s contemporaries included Shirley Scott, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Reuben Wilson and Jimmy McGriff — Benson and Donaldson selected Smith. They nonetheless be in contact; Donaldson visits and Benson had referred to as two days earlier than this interview.
“I liked the feel, and they must have liked the feel also,” Smith stated. “I’m guessing. We had a ball when we played. You feel at home when you play with certain people. And that’s a great thing. Because everybody sound good, but they don’t feel good. Or they don’t play well together. That’s the thing about music.”
Around this time, Smith started recording his personal albums, too, together with a quartet of traditional releases for Blue Note between 1969 and 1970: “Turning Point,” “Think!,” “Drives” and “Move Your Hand.” (Smith left the label in 1970 and returned in 2016.) His tackle Blood, Sweat & Tears’ “Spinning Wheel” was sampled by A Tribe Called Quest in 1990, and extra not too long ago, the title observe from “Move Your Hand” turned a favourite of Pop’s.
“I was listening to ‘Move Your Hand’ over and over at my family home in Florida, and the neighbor across the canal has cockatoos,” Pop stated. “I was playing Barry White that day,” and the birds have been quiet. “But when I played ‘Move Your Hand,’ they started screaming.” He laughed.
The collaboration between Smith and Pop arose naturally — Pop went to a Smith gig and so they began speaking. Later, Pop recommended the covers. He had been a fan of “Why Can’t We Live Together,” famously sampled by Drake on “Hotline Bling,” since its 1972 launch. And Smith had beforehand lined “Sunshine Superman” on “Move Your Hand”
“I like the way he sounded,” Smith stated of Pop’s performances on his album. “Natural. You know when people try to overdo it? Again? You don’t have to do that. He just did what he did.”
Pop, who turns 74 subsequent month, had collaborated with artists on the fringes of jazz earlier than, just like the bassist and producer Bill Laswell, however by no means with an artist so rooted within the custom. And true to jazz type, there was basically no rehearsal.
“I’d never done a proper jazz session before, so I was, you might say, on my best behavior,” Pop stated with fun. “And, you know, we do that, and then I’d watch him, and that was about it. With each one. We didn’t really talk out the arrangement as much as just watch him for cues.”
“Breathe” is technically the second time that Smith and Pop have labored collectively. At the present the place they first met, Smith at one level picked up his DLS Electric Walking Stick, a cane and percussion instrument made by the Slaperoo firm. Pop performed it that night time, too, and a bond was shaped over the unlikeliest of devices.
“I was playing it through the audience, and he was over there, and I let him play it,” Smith stated. “And we decided to do it. Do it together. And it worked. It worked.”