Sweet '70s jazz-funk revisited
Lonnie Liston Smith was originally a sideman with the great jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, for whom he wrote the wonderfully limpid “Astral Travelling”. As a solo artist or with his band The Cosmic Echoes, he was, as these reissues demonstrate, a boundlessly sanguine purveyor of jazz funk whose endless exhortations for peace and unity, delivered over fast-moving electric keyboards, made him an uplifting and accessible antidote to the more darkly angular likes of Miles Davis or Sun Ra, who operated in similar sonic space.
Sadly, Smith has become tainted by association with the whole Gilles Peterson/Acid Jazz axis, too-easy fodder for annoying turntablists in trendy Shoreditch or those in search of an aesthetically lazy chill-out.
Doubtless Smith has been grateful for the attention this has afforded him, and to some extent his ambrosial fusion has made him too easy prey for clich