Lonnie Liston Smith

Astral Travelling (Digipack)

RCA Victor

Lonnie Liston Smith (p), George Barron (ss,ts), Joe Beck (g), Cecil McBee (b), David Lee Jr (d), Badal Roy (tabla), Sonny Morgan, James Mtume, Geeta Vashi (perc)

Reference: 09026 638782 CD

"In more recent years Lonnie Liston Smith has probably become more widely known for his work on the Hammond organ. However, on this 1973 session he plays piano and electric piano exclusively. The music on this disc is derivative of the style to be found in John Coltrane's later recordings and also shows the influence of the work of Gato Barbieri and Pharoah Sanders from this period. This is hardly surprising as Smith had performed quite extensively with the latter two artists.

The music here is heavily textured and there is a very strong feeling of ensemble - in a floating, almost free manner as opposed to the more orthodox small group style. This session draws on many different cultures - there is a pronounced Indian influence brought about by the presence of Badal Roy on tabla.

The title track is a fascinating, "spacey" piece with melodic soprano playing from Barron and imaginative use of the electric piano by the leader. This is recorded in the early days of the electric piano but Smith was obviously very aware of the potential sonic variations available to the inquisitive player of the instrument. The percussionists create a wonderful background of exotic sounds - as they do on much of this record.

" Let Us Go " is very much in the mode of one of Coltrane's later, more meditative compositions - which is a strong recommendation to my ears. Once again George Barron plays some highly attractive soprano saxophone - invoking the feeling of a spiritual. I had not heard of Barron before and could find no mention of him in any of the normal reference works, which is a great pity as he has a most individual voice on both of the instruments featured on this record. His playing is smoother and rather less ferocious than many of the saxophonists who were contemporary with him. It is fascinating to hear this type of music played with a more pensive approach.

"Rejuvenation" is a brighter number with a jazz waltz feeling a la "My Favourite Things" and once again Barron is to the fore on soprano. "I Mani " gives us our first opportunity to hear him on tenor - his playing on this instrument is more forceful here and he conjures up the spirit to be found in the performances of Coltrane and Sanders. Even on this more free sounding piece there is still a strong element of structure and control.

The remainder of the music on this disc is equally good and the alternate takes are well worthy of their inclusion. This is strongly recommended to followers of the more thoughtful, probing music from this era and would make an excellent introduction for anyone new to this style of Jazz."

Dick Stafford (a professional reed player and teacher living in Coventry) www.musicweb.uk.net


01. Astral Travelling
02. Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord
03. Rejuvenation
04. I Mani ( Faith )
05. In Search Of Truth
06. Aspirations
07. Astral Travelling *
08. Rejuvenation *
09. Imani *
10. In Search Of Truth *

Album details

(*) Previously unissued alternate takes

Lonnie Liston Smith (p); George Barron (ss;ts); Joe Beck (g); Cecil McBee (b); David Lee Jr (d); Badal Roy (tabla); Sonny Morgan; James Mtume; Geeta Vashi (perc).
Recorded April 24, 1973

19,95 €  (tax incl.)

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