The second of Lonnie Liston Smith’s solo records for Flying Dutchman, Cosmic Funk sports sick artwork (LLS’ coolest IMO) and expands on the sound of Astral Traveling with the inclusion of Lonnie’s lil bro Donald Smith on vocals and piano. To be completely honest, I can take or leave the vocals, but I get what they were trying to do here. Jazz in 1974 was all about finding new horizons, unchartered landscapes, unexplored galaxies etc.; so LLS & crew reject the purist mood that pervaded the 60s, in turn embracing the funk and soul sounds that were increasingly defining a generation. Still, Lonnie does his thing to a pair of standards: the melody for Trane’s “Naima” is reinterpreted with lyrics, and “Footprints” takes a spiritually-minded approach to Wayne Shorter’s original. The opening title track is funkier than anything on Astral Traveling, taking a cue from Herbie’s slick arp basslines on Head Hunters released the previous year. “Sais,” composed by a pre-Juicy Fruit James Mtume, opens side B with some proper stretched-out afrofuturism before settling into gorgeous ballad “Peaceful Ones,” featuring some of Lonnie’s most divine Rhodes playing and a tender vocal from Donald. Ace reissue by Real Gone Music with full repro gatefold jacket, recommended.
- black vinyl pressing
- housed in full color gatefold jacket
- music label: Real Gone Music 2022
reviewed by nick nightingale 08/2019