The 2022 return of Ronnie Foster to Blue Note Records is an event of synergistic quintessence, completeness, and cool. The organ great's dynamic new album, Reboot, arrives upon the 50th anniversary of his 1972 Blue Note debut Two Headed Freap, which is also being reissued as part of the label's Classic Vinyl Series. The nine-song Reboot marks a fresh start for Foster, who has whipped up an omnidirectional brew of Hammond Organ Groove that, yes, pays homage to the past but more often reflects Ronnie's restlessness for ushering in the new.
The album opens with the title track, "Reboot," which he describes as "organ music...but a little different. This is where my head is at now – and where I'm going." His journey to that destination rides on a winding melody, not one but two bridges, and a rock steady groove kicked down by his son, drummer Chris Foster, one of four cuts he plays on here. Ronnie digs into The Latin Bit on three numbers. "Sultry Song II" is an update of his own tune that he introduced on flutist Nestor Torres' 1991 album Dance of the Phoenix (which he also produced). "Carlos" is a composition inspired by Mexican Rock legend Carlos Santana. This features a flamenco guitar intro played by Jerry Lopez, simmers into a suave melody then all-out erupts with fiery solos from trio guitarist Michael O'Neill and Ronnie, spiced with the percussion of Luis Conte and Lenny Castro. The tropical trinity ends with "After Chicago," balmy bossa evocations of one especially memorable Windy City gig trip.
"Isn't She Lovely" is a steady grooving cover of Ronnie's old friend Stevie Wonder's classic song set to a backbeat shuffle, another full circle moment given that Ronnie played on Songs in the Key of Life. Then there's the crowd-pleasing call and response rhythm & blues holler "Hey Good Lookin' Woman," road-tested around the globe to audiences of all cultures and languages that eat up the playful vocal challenge. And for those in search of some of that good ol' burnin' after-hours organ trio vibe, "Swingin'" more than lives up to its matter-of-fact title, fueled by drummer Jimmy Branly's hot pepper punctuations. The organ was originally created for churches. On Reboot, the solo "J's Dream" marinates in that deep, warm, surround sound hug everybody could use right about now. The album closer, a piano solo entitled "After Conversation with Nadia," points to another level of reboot for Ronnie who started out on acoustic ivories.
There's so much synergy in the circuitry surrounding Ronnie's return to Blue Note. The master recorded over two days at fabled Capitol Studio in Hollywood which he first set foot in back in 1976 recording the multiplatinum selling Breezin' LP (to which he contributed the song "Lady") as a member of George Benson's band. When Paula Salvatore, beloved Capitol Studios gatekeeper, ushered him in for a private viewing of the vault, sitting right on the desk happened to be the original 2-track master tape of Grant Green's Alive! – Ronnie's first record date. The sweetest treat of Reboot is that Ronnie's daughter, Kaylie, shot the Francis Wolff-worthy session photos and also designed the secret coded cover.
- Sultry Song II
- J's Dream
- Isn't She Lovely
- Hey Good Lookin' Woman
- After Chicago
- After Conversation With Nadia