Lonnie Liston Smith

Cosmic Funk

BGP/Flying Dutchman • 1974

Knowing less is sometimes better. For instance, if you have never heard of Lonnie Liston Smith, then »Cosmic Funk« from 1974 is a good album to start with. On the title track, the keyboardist initially starts at a point that could be interpreted as a continuation of his experience with Miles Davis in the »On the Corner« sessions, fusion of the jet-propelled variety. The second piece, »Footprints«, written by Wayne Shorter, heralds what Lonnie Liston Smith was to take to the highest heights the following year with his classic »Expansions«: a relaxed, yet complex groove with a Latin American foundation as a tempo that is by no means too moderate, along with elegantly restrained melodies and solos. In »Beautiful Woman«, soul vocals from his brother Donald Smith are added. »Cosmic Funk« remains on this course until a rendition of John Coltrane’s »Naima«, which, interpreted as a vocals number, also forms a very individual, relaxed conclusion to the record. The cosmic is there in the keyboards, the calm pulse of the percussion, the long bows of the brass. Nothing more is needed. With »Expansions« firmly in your ears, however, you can hardly avoid discovering the precursors to something else to come. As I said, knowing less…