Dr. Lonnie Smith — a jazz veteran who’s been touring and recording for five decades — will visit the Mondavi Center’s Vanderhoef Studio Theatre in the cabaret configuration for four nights, performing with his trio at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Feb. 12-15.
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., some seven decades ago, Smith began playing the organ in the late 1950s. He eventually moved to New York, playing clubs in Harlem and making his recording debut as a bandleader with the album “Finger Lickin’ Good” on Columbia Records in 1966.
Smith eventually moved over to the Blue Note label, added the title “Dr.” to his name, and began wearing a prominent turban onstage, sometimes white, sometimes red, sometimes other colors — not for religious reasons, but because he likes the look.
His enigmatic style and wide-ranging musical interests — embracing jazz, funk, The Beatles, soul and more — earned him recognition as a musical forefather of the acid jazz genre in the 1980s. Through the decades, Smith has repeatedly won critics’ polls as a jazz organist.
Tickets are $42 general and $19 for UC Davis students, and are available in limited supply at www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787.