Lonnie Liston Smith was familiar to Bob Thiele through his role as the pianist in Pharoah Sanders’ group, but it wasn’t until Lonnie had become a member of Miles Davis’ band that Thiele decided it was time to sign him to his own deal. By this time Lonnie had been on the scene for the best part of a decade playing with Art Blakey and Roland Kirk. He had come into his own with Sanders but there was nothing in jazz to compare with being in the piano seat for Davis’ group. For his Flying Dutchman debut Lonnie went into the studio with George Barron on saxophone, Cecil McBee on bass and a host of percussionists including two Indian players. The sound was atypical of his later recordings in that it was a largely acoustic set – featuring electric piano but no synths – but it fitted in with Lonnie’s cosmic jazz philosophy. The title track set the scene for an album with a mellow, spacey feel that today would be called spiritual jazz. The album was an immediate success and led to a long term contract with Flying Dutchman.
By Dean Rudland