Picks and Pans Review: Dreams of Tomorrow
Lonnie Liston Smith
Pianist Smith, 42, has skipped all over the musical map since starting out in 1961 as a keyboard accompanist for such performers as Ethel Ennis and Betty Carter. He has also done hitches with a Who's Who of jazz giants: Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Art Blakey, Joe Williams, Pharoah Sanders, Gato Barbieri and Miles Davis. He went out on his own in 1974 with a group he called the Cosmic Echoes. The eight selections here reflect the harmonious working relationship of Smith and his co-producer and session bassist, Marcus Miller. Another major contributor is Lonnie's younger brother, Donald, who plays flute and adds the warm, soulful vocals. Most of the cuts are subdued jazz/rhythm-and-blues fusions. A Lonely Way to Be is in the purest contemporary strain and Rainbows of Love is an energetic jazz instrumental. Smith credits the calm, iridescent mood of this collection to the Bengali guru Sri Chinmoy. After a number of disaffecting experiences in the music business, Smith says, he was "rejuvenated" after becoming a disciple of Chinmoy. One of the guru's simple meditative melodies, Divine Light, is given a jazz arrangement here by Smith, and A Garden of Peace is a tranquil piano instrumental composed by Smith in Chinmoy's honor.
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