LONNIE LISTON SMITH

Fusion • United States
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When Lonnie Liston Smith made the transition from sideman to leader in 1973, it was the beginning of a fusion/crossover/post-bop band he dubbed Lonnie Liston Smith & the Cosmic Echoes. The acoustic pianist/electric keyboardist, who was born in Richmond, VA, on December 28, 1940, should not be confused with soul-jazz/hard bop organist Lonnie Smith. This Smith would have had an impressive resumé even if he had never formed a band of his own. In the '60s or early '70s, he had been a sidemen for, among others, Pharoah Sanders, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Gato Barbieri, singer Betty Carter, and trumpeter Miles Davis. In fact, Smith was still in Davis' employ when he signed with producer Bob Thiele's RCA-distributed Flying Dutchman label and recorded his first album as a leader, Astral Traveling (which Thiele produced). Nonetheless, the Cosmic Echoes were a major step forward for Smith -- the improviser had a lot read more...
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The Best of RareThe Best of Rare
Remastered · Compilation
Ariola
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Cosmic Funk & Spiritual SoundsCosmic Funk & Spiritual Sounds
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LONNIE LISTON SMITH Discography

LONNIE LISTON SMITH albums / top albums

LONNIE LISTON SMITH Astral Traveling album cover 4.62 | 3 ratings
Astral Traveling
Fusion 1973
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Cosmic Funk album cover 3.41 | 2 ratings
Cosmic Funk
Fusion 1974
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Expansions album cover 3.62 | 3 ratings
Expansions
Fusion 1975
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Visions of a New World album cover 3.00 | 3 ratings
Visions of a New World
Fusion 1975
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Reflections Of A Golden Dream album cover 3.05 | 2 ratings
Reflections Of A Golden Dream
Fusion 1976
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Renaissance album cover 2.95 | 2 ratings
Renaissance
Fusion 1976
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Loveland album cover 2.50 | 2 ratings
Loveland
Fusion 1978
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Exotic Mysteries album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Exotic Mysteries
Fusion 1978
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Dreams of Tomorrow album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Dreams of Tomorrow
Fusion 1979
LONNIE LISTON SMITH A Song For The Children album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
A Song For The Children
Fusion 1979
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Love Is The Answer album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Love Is The Answer
Fusion 1980
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Silhouettes album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Silhouettes
Fusion 1984
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Rejuvenation album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Rejuvenation
Fusion 1985
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Make Someone Happy album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Make Someone Happy
Fusion 1989
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Drives album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Drives
Fusion 1994
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Transformation album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Transformation
Fusion 1998

LONNIE LISTON SMITH EPs & splits

LONNIE LISTON SMITH live albums

LONNIE LISTON SMITH Live! album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live!
Fusion 1977

LONNIE LISTON SMITH demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

LONNIE LISTON SMITH re-issues & compilations

LONNIE LISTON SMITH The Best Of Lonnie Liston Smith album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best Of Lonnie Liston Smith
Fusion 1978
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Watercolors album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Watercolors
Fusion 1991
LONNIE LISTON SMITH New World Visions - The Very Best of Lonnie Liston Smith album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
New World Visions - The Very Best of Lonnie Liston Smith
Fusion 1993
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Exotic Mysteries & Loveland album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Exotic Mysteries & Loveland
Fusion 1998
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Introducing album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Introducing
Fusion 2002
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Explorations - The Columbia Recordings album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Explorations - The Columbia Recordings
Fusion 2002
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Original Album Classics album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Original Album Classics
Fusion 2009
LONNIE LISTON SMITH Cosmic Funk & Spiritual Sounds: The Flying Dutchman Masters album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Cosmic Funk & Spiritual Sounds: The Flying Dutchman Masters
Fusion 2012

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LONNIE LISTON SMITH Reviews

LONNIE LISTON SMITH Renaissance

Album · 1976 · Fusion
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Sean Trane
Sixth and last real Cosmic Echoes album for this band that was finally starting to be one, with some now-fairly-long-standing members in its ranks, such as Donald Smith, David Hubbard, Killian and more recently Al Anderson, Wilbur Fletcher and Guilhermo Franco. And while the continuous slide from the absolute perfection of Astral Travelling kept going, until the fairly mediocre Golden Dream, this album does indeed seem a bit better titled with its Renaissance. Yes, the present is an improvement, but it still has its share of overly sweet songs, but at least the superb (if somewhat pretentious) artwork depicting Liston as an artiste-painter makes up partly for it.

The BMG digipak CD reissue comes with a border of cabalistic signs I had no recollection of seeing on the outer gatefold cover of the vinyl back then, but it adds charms. I had picked the album up (along with its predecessor) in my teens, but quickly send it back to the used-vinyls store. Of course, I investigated in the mid-90’s some earlier of his works, after seeing some of his credentials in Rashaan’s or Pharoah’s band or Gato Barbieri albums. So a few years later I borrowed this album from the library with some understandable wariness, and to be honest, it didn’t reverse my opinion drastically, but it has crawled up a few echelons in my esteem and at least, there are no blatant disco songs.

Opening on the instrumental mid-tempo Space Lady with its delightful Smith-played flute and good Liston Rhodes and later Hubbard’s sax, the album continues with a Latin-inspired (Brazilian) Mardi Gras instrumental that takes a long stroll. Things slip rather badly with the awfully string-ladden arranged soppy Starlight And You, but not all is bad. I’m only slightly bored and let it glide along, because despite the candyfloss, the arrangements are awesome.

The instrumental ultra-funky but mid-tempoed Hubbard-penned Mongotee is another beauty, where SLS’s Rhodes is charming its way into our eardrums and the string arrangements are more sober than previously. The soppy Song Of Love interrupts the reverie (despite Smith’s excellent soul vocals), but the short cosmic Between Here And There reaches a mild blissness (not a word, I know ;o)) that prepares us for the title track finale, a decent soul-funk with again plenty string arrangements. Well, as said above, Renaissance certainly merits somewhat its name more than its predecessor Golden Dream, as there is one more good track than there are very-average ones.

LONNIE LISTON SMITH Reflections Of A Golden Dream

Album · 1976 · Fusion
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Sean Trane
Fifth Cosmic Echoes album, and my first vinyl exposure (along with Renaissance) to SLS’s musical realm during my teen years in the late 70’s, it’s taken me about three decades to reassess this album, after having rejected it due to the disco I hated so much then. One of the things that had pushed me to investigate towards these two albums were the very “prog” artworks of Golden Dream and Renaissance, but I was soon to find out that this artwork-approach was definitely not an exact science. Notice the Rhodes keyboard sunk in the pond’s waters under the water lilies. By this time, the Cosmic Echoes line-up was finally gelling somewhat (and it would hold for two albums) with Killian, Smith,

Opening on the atrocious disco track Get Down Everybody, the slow-paced spacey instrumental Quiet Dawn that slowly segues in the mid-tempoed but gentle (instrumental as well) Sunbeams that oozes the Brazilian rhythms, then slows down with Meditations that underlines somewhat SLS’s Rhodes over-dependence.

The awful disco-funk (or funk-disco in this case) rears its ugly head on the start of the flipside, but Peace And Love is closer to mid-70’s WAR than Donna Summer. There is definite déjà-entendu feel with the upbeat funky and sung Beautiful Women, but the déjà-vu continues with the spacey instrumental Goddess Of Love and the choir scats of Inner Beauty. is a mid-paced yawner that only the two disco songs dive deeper in mediocrity. The closing title track is a fairly dissonant instrumental outro that closes the album much better than it opened.

So past the shock of the two disco drecks that opens each side of the album, Golden Dreams is yet another Cosmic Echoes album that doesn’t bring anything new to SLS’s realm, if only the bad-news disco-junk. Soooo, if you want to really spend some time discovering Liston’s world, you’d better concentrate on his early albums, despite the fact that the present will already give you the general tone, albeit much poppier than Cosmic Funk or Astral Travelling would.

LONNIE LISTON SMITH Visions of a New World

Album · 1975 · Fusion
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Sean Trane
Fourth LL-S album and the third sporting the Cosmic Echoes name, but again very few musicians participated to the previous CF album, with only percussionist Killan and Don Smith remaining. To be honest, outside LL-S himself, most of the musos are totally unknown to me, despite the vast amount of them intervening on the album. But while only conga player Ray Armando’s name rings a bell, the others are definitely holding their ranks and we’re faced with another good soul-jazz-funk album. With its huge gatefold artwork showing LL-S in a prayer position, sporting his fetish yellow bonnet, the album continues the slow slide from the Trane-galaxy fusion towards a generally more-mainstream soul-jazz.

Right from the ultra-funky bass notes from the opening Chance For Peace, you can hear the palpable slide further towards soul-jazz and away from his early albums (Astral Travelling), and if there are some rather cool percs, great rhythms, solid horn lines and excellent vocals of Donald Smith, we’re definitely not far away from WAR. Much milder is the mid-tempo Love Beams where, despite Smith’s flute, one can’t help but be bored. And if that wasn’t enough cheese, get a load of Colours Of The Rainbow, a very slow ballad, filled with wind chimes and slow Rhodes layers. Not bad per se, but very kitsch. The closing Devika is much more interesting with its cosmic ARP synth layers, excellent congas and plenty of tempo changes.

The flipside doesn’t start in the best of manners, since the opening Sunset could be the twin brother (but sung) of the Rainbow track, but the two-part title track is setting the counter backwards, with some excellent Alice C.-type of fusion, with delicious piano in the intro, then veering up-tempo funky, not far away from Devika. The closing Summer Nights returns to the cheesy Sunset and Rainbow moods.

Yet another Cosmic Echoes album, one close to the rock idiom than the jazz one, but to be honest LL-S’ better musical days as a creator were already behind him. Too poppy for me, despite a few still very bright moments, but Visions Of A New World remains in the straight line trajectory of Liston. Definitely a bit inferior to his previous two Cosmic Echoes album.



LONNIE LISTON SMITH Cosmic Funk

Album · 1974 · Fusion
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Sean Trane
After LL-S’s debut “solo” Cosmic Echoes album that was a fusionesque descendant of the Coltrane-Shepp realm, Cosmic Funk is quite a departure towards the rock world with its often-exciting jazz-funk. Outside Liston himself, only drummer Barron remains from Astral Travelling, but then again, it’s quite a different sonic world, even if the transition is still gradual. Cosmic Funk hesitates a lot between awesome jazz-fusion in the Coltrane legacy and some much more mainstream funk

Opening on the deadly funk-jazz of the title track that is strongly reminiscent of WAR, we’re greeted with some blood-curdling primal screams over a strong percussion funk. The following Shorter-penned Footprints is fast-paced McCoy Tyner-like fusion arranged piece that can transcend the mind and cosmic universe. Closing the A-side, we get the interesting fast-fusion piece of Beautiful Woman, marred by commercial sappy-lyrics sung by Donald Smith (who also plays piano and flute), but the music itself is not quite as mainstream as the title and vocals (however good a voice Smith has) would have you think. Sometimes Santana is not far away.

Over the flipside, the Mtume-penned Sais (Egypt) hints at the previous album with its hints of Alice Coltrane and transcending Echoplexed-Rhodes and quite sax lines. To some, the over-abundance of echo effects might make the music sound dated, but if you’re into mind-boggling and mind-soothing soundscapes, Sais (and the album in general) is a pure delight. Donald Smith returns to the microphone to sing out Peaceful Ones, another rather mainstream-sounding mid-tempo piece, but the whole thing remains more serene than soppy or cheesy, with some excellent bass and flute works. The closing Trane classic Naima gets an unusual treatment, but to be honest, I don’t think this version pays proper tribute to the departed giant. The album’s lower point, but it’s still acceptable for discerning jazz buffs.

While a rather different beast than its forerunner Astral Travelling, Cosmic Funk is nevertheless is an easily recommendable album, one that starts better than it ends, though. It’s easy to see, when comparing AT with CF, where LL-S will be heading in future albums. To be honest, this new direction will give a few very good jazz-funk albums, before slowly degenerating into soft funk-disco stuff. In the meantime, enjoy some excellent cosmic jazz-funk that should hit the spot without difficulty on first try.

LONNIE LISTON SMITH Expansions

Album · 1975 · Fusion
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Sean Trane
After the fairly good but uneven Cosmic Funk album, LL-S came back the following year with Expansions, an album much n the same line, both in musical direction, but also ins unevenness, as it proposes some pretty soppy tracks. The Cosmic Echoes group (was it ever really?) line-up built on the CF album is already fairly changed, with only Killan, Don Smith and Liston himself remaining, but we hear the return of ex-Pharoah member Cecil McBee on bass. Graced with a superb (if slightly flattened) gatefold artwork, Expansions was again released on the Flying Dutchman label, a few months after Cosmic Funk.

The opening title track, is rather reminiscent of mid-70’s Santana, but with a dominating Rhodes instead of guitar and with Don Smith’s excellent vocals and flute solo to boot, so it adds up a unique feel. The outstanding Desert Night follows, filled with serenity and beauty that you could only find in the Arizona, Nevada or Sahara nocturnal hours. However Summer Days has an already-heard (déjà-entendu, anyone?) somewhere else feel, with that rumba-samba rhythm riff that is indeed reminiscent (but can’t pin it as I write it now) of a cover of a better-known similar track. Its over-repetitive nature overstays its welcome halfway through, though.

The flipside opens extremely well with the up-tempo Voodoo Woman, with its shrilling flute, and later on Shadows is much in the same mould. Unfortunately, the album takes a wrong curve with the soppy sung-ballad, Peace. As if that wasn’t enough, the following My Love goes even further down the overly-sentimental road.

So, Expansions is still a very-worthy album, but it opens much better than it closes, but that’s the beauty of the compact disc, one flick of the eject button can end your plight. Definitely still worth investigating for there are three excellent tracks.

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Kazuhiro wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Added
jude111 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
The album "Visions of a New World" is missing from his discography; it's arguably his best and most important album. (It's not to be confused with the compilation "New World Visions," which references this earlier album in the title but contains material from a later period.)

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