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Dr. Lonnie Smith quote
I really was thinking Jimmy Smith but it just always came out different


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Dr. Lonnie Smith quote
I really was thinking Jimmy Smith but it just always came out different


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Dr. Lonnie Smith quote
I really was thinking Jimmy Smith but it just always came out different


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The Demagogue Reacts! - Action/Reaction

1000 Musicians, welcome James Shipp

You know these publicity stunts in museums, supermarkets and gas stations. When visitor number x comes by he or she gets coverage in the local newspaper, a photo and a gift, sometimes two or three. Now and then we add a new album to The Hammond Jazz Inventory and all those musicians come by. The other day we added the album "Rise Up!" by Dr. Lonnie Smith and here he was, musician number 1000. It was James Shipp!! We took a photograph (from his myspace page) and promised coverage in The Hammond Jazz Inventory. No gifts, our budget is very limited, but a great chance to have a chat.




THJI> Hi James

JS> Hello.

THJI> We have the privilege to congratulate you with the fact you are the 1000th musician in The Hammond Jazz Inventory. Did you know about our site before?

JS> Can't say I'd had the pleasure! I was initially confused as to why I was being included in a list of many of my favorite Hammond-centric musicians... I didn't make the Dr. Lonnie connection at all!

THJI> Can you tell us something about all those instruments you play and use. Like the cajon and pandeiro? You play a lot of instruments, half of them are focused on rhythm, the other half are tonal, like the vibes. A difficult mix, so it seems.

JS> It can be a difficult mix, mostly because of the time required to keep all my different kinds of chops in shape. I like to remind myself that they are all percussion instruments-- I've taken to playing the vibes almost like a set of pitched cowbells or agogo bells at times.

The cajon and pandeiro I've just taken up seriously in the last three or four years, (whereas I've been a professional vibes player for almost 10,) but I really enjoy them both, and I do what I can to explore what's possible with them both in and out of their traditional roles and settings. I play a lot of Brazilian grooves on pandeiro, but I also use it for playing Irish music and even some funky stuff. With cajon I must admit I'm not as well versed in traditional Peruvian stuff as I'd like, and I really enjoy playing the flamenco rhythms I know, but I'm not exactly a native speaker in that world either. I like to think about cajon more as a stripped-down drum set.

THJI> You know our focus is on organ jazz. You came into the picture because you recorded with Dr. Lonnie Smith, on his latest album "Rise Up!". We have two questions about that.

JS> Sure, go ahead.

THJI> We have seen quite some concerts of the Doctor and to us it seems he is giving the rhythm section, mostly the drummer, a hard time. Fun, but difficult.

JS> Yeah, but they love playing with him. Herlin seemed to have a good time, and I'm pretty sure Allison Miller was way into it as well!

It's got to be a good combination of being inspired and transported by Dr. Lonnie and what he's doing and also keeping your head in the game and not getting carried away. He's a real master of causing a great amount of drama and tension and expressing a lot of emotion in his music without being tripped up by it. Those are hard to combine - great passion and energy with control and focus. Lonnie's one of the masters of that, I reckon. I know when I'm an audience member at his shows there's always at least one tune in every set where he builds and builds to the point where I can hardly breathe!

THJI> Wouldn't you have rather played the vibes on this album. We only ask this because we like he organ - vibes combination so much.

JS> I love that sound, too, going back to Bobby Hutcherson and Larry Young, two of my favorite musicians. I always thought it was a shame that Milt Jackson and Jimmy Smith- both of whom I think lived into their 80s, never recorded together. (Or did they? You'd be the folks to ask, yes?) That would've been a really natural musical relationship, I think.

It's strange, there are some folks who have me play both vibes and percussion, some who only think of me as a vibes player, and some who only know my percussion playing. I've learned to just appreciate the opportunities that come along without worrying too much about what I'm asked to play.

As for 'Rise Up!,' I was just thrilled to be involved on any level, and getting fit my groove in with Herlin is a lot of fun. Dr. Lonnie's been a favorite of mine for a long time, and to be asked to be on this album was a great gift.

THJI> We sure understand that and we are happy to welcome you in The Hammond Jazz Inventory. Talking with you this we way are thinking of doing more interviews in the future. Maybe you can kick start us. Do you have a burning question to a musician that is in The Hammond Jazz Inventory?

JS> Yes I have. "What are your favorite vibraphone organ records, and why do you think (if you do) that vibists and organists make for such a good pairing?" Will that do?

THJI> Of course, that will do. Thank you very much, it's been great talking to you.

JS> Gotta run now... practicing Indian music like mad for this Carnegie concert. Wish me luck!

THJI> Good luck !!

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