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Jackson band, Smith shine

JAVON JACKSON BAND, DR. LONNIE SMITH, Sheraton City Centre, Monday

When Javon Jackson brought his band out for an encore Monday night in the Sheraton Ballroom to thunderous applause, he said, "I know why the students are clapping, it's a school night."

Jackson was right, of course, but the Javon Jackson band took everybody back to school and gave lessons on how to play individually and how to be a performing band onstage.

Educational indeed.

Jackson hails from the Berklee School of Music in Boston, but he hasn't stopped learning, studying under Art Blakey and Branford Marsalis.

Dr. Lonnie Smith, meanwhile, has been king of the hill on the jazz organ for all of Jackson's life, learning at the school of live shows and becoming known as one of the best for at least four decades.

With the two pairing, the groove and funk were virtually guaranteed.

The surprise came from guitarist David Gilmore, who held his own in the talented quintet with both soulful passages and machine-gun expressions on the fretboard.

Starting out with "In the Sticks," from 2006's "Now," it took only a few minutes before Jackson let both Gilmore and Smith get their licks in while geting in a few himself. With Smith hidden behind his wooden organ, one wished for a mirror or a projected image so that his nifty finger work on the keyboard could be visible. Those watching carefully could peer under the organ to see his legs active on the pedals, but eventually his face took over. Framed by his famous turban, groomed whiskers and handlebar mustache, Smith's eyebrows worked overtime and his sly toothy grin seemed to sing out certain organ phrases. Soon he broadcast all the expression needed.

Jackson introduced his band to start "Easy Does It," listing accomplishments and giving compliments to all his bandmates, including bassist Kenny Davis and drummer Rudy Royston. They closed the first set with "One by One," from Jackson's teacher Blakey.

Back from the break, Davis had his chance to shine on "Fun Time," and then the band got out of the way of Smith, who led them on an epic piece that featured the organist on his knees, playing the foot pedals with his hands, much to the merriment of his fellow musicians. Jackson proclaimed Smith "the greatest in the world" and said "please don't try this at home."

Smith, Jackson and Gilmore all shone, with the saxophonist offering technical flourishes but maintaining the music's soul in a way that kept everything accessible.

Despite some hairy, noisy moments in the second half, the music remained easy on the ear and earned enthusiastic crowd feedback from start to finish.