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A Tribute to Dr. Lonnie Smith



The jazz world and jazz guitar community mourn the passing of organ great, Dr. Lonnie Smith. Jonathan Kreisberg, Bobby Broom and Dave Stryker pay tribute.

Jonathan Kreisberg: Dr. Lonnie Smith was a master musician and a unique human being and to say he will be missed greatly is a vast understatement.  Lonnie was practically an institution in his support and development of guitarists.  Having grown up listening to his recordings with masters like George Benson and Peter Bernstein, I was over the moon to feel that groove and sound firsthand.   I was lucky to strike up a great musical friendship with the Doc 12 years ago and to support him on 100’s of stages and make 5 recordings together.  It was always fun, and his casual sense of humor and child-like creative streaks would sometimes let you forget what a revered legend he was (and then he would hit that B3 and you would have to pinch yourself!).   I owe him a huge debt and I will miss him terribly.  I’m so happy that his amazing spirit is captured on his recordings for future generations to witness.

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Bobby Broom: He embodied what it means to be a successful jazz musician – Taking in a variety of musical stylistic influences, studying his master predecessors, apprenticing as a member and contributor to the jazz community, discovering and exploiting his own musical personality and sound and finally, leaving a legacy of recorded works and affecting a following generation.

I met and played with Lonnie in NYC when I was around 20 years old. His affable nature came across in his playing style. I remember him to be warm and supportive then. 20 years later, I had an opportunity to record and was fortunate to experience his warmth and support again, along with his singular, uplifting musicianship and personality. What beautiful memories he’s left us all with.

Dave Stryker: I first worked with Dr. Lonnie Smith in the early 80’s after I left Jack McDuff. Lonnie had the foundation and groove of Jimmy Smith down, but he was always pushing ahead, striving for originality and always was in the moment musically. His feel and fire were inspiring on the bandstand. He not only could burn uptempo’s but could tell a story on ballads like no one else. He was also a beautiful human being- always spreading positivity, joy and humor to everyone around him. 

I am grateful to have had him as a friend and mentor for 40 years and cherish all the times we spent together on the bandstand. His music lives on, just check out any of his records and be inspired.

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