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Lonnie Liston Smith

Lonnie Liston Smith

Lonnie Liston Smith, Mark Adams & Brian Jackson
@ the Hideaway
18 November 2012

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Lonnie Liston Smith biography

The Great Lonnie Liston Smith is one of contemporary music’s most versatile musicians. In a career that spans some 40 years, he has been heard in a variety of context as a featured sideman for some of Jazz music’s most illustrious leaders before stepping out to reveal his own original concepts as a bandleader in the mid 70’s. He is a keyboardist of the first rank and has influenced a generation of young players that have acknowledged his rhythmic urgency (swing), harmonic acumen and composing skills.

Smith was born in Richmond, Virginia into a musical family. His father was a member of the Gospel Group, ‘The Harmonising Four.’ In 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt invited The Harmonising Four to sing at the White House following the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Smith remembers such gospel groups as ‘The Dixie Humming Birds’ and ‘The Soul Stirrers’ with Sam Cooke, being frequent visitors at his family’s home.

There was a piano in the house and he began investigating it before formal instructions a few years later. It was during high school that Smith became infatuated with modern Jazz through hearing alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, one of the creative geniuses in music. It was not long before he was listening to Miles Davis (a future employer) and John Coltrane. Smith also began listening to great pianist geniuses, such as: Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell, Earl ‘Father’ Hines, Erroll Garner and the many other piano geniuses.

After graduating from Armstrong High School, Smith entered Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, where he majored in music education and earned his B.S. degree. While attending Morgan State University, Smith became a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and also a member of the music fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

Smith began performing in the Baltimore area where he became adept at backing vocalists such as Ethel Ennis and visiting dignitaries like Betty Carter. While attending Morgan State University, he began performing with his peers, Gary Bartz (alto saxophonist), Grachan Moncur (trombonist), and Mickey Bass (on upright bass). After college, Smith moved to New York City and began performing with the top vocalists, such as, Betty Carter and Joe Williams. Soon after, Smith joined Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers and after The Jazz Messengers, he got a call to perform with drummer, Max Roach, which was unusual because Max rarely used a pianist in his ensemble. Unfortunately, his year with Roach was not documented on vinyl, but these gigs did elevate his status as one of the up and coming players on the scene. He then enjoyed a 2 year stay with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and recorded 2 records with Rahsaan entitled, “Please Don’t Cry Beautiful Edith” on Verve Records and “Here Comes the Whistleman” on Atlantic Records.
Smith’s next 3 jobs were perhaps the most important stepping stones in his career. He got the call from Pharaoh Sanders in 1968 and made his mark in one of the most visible ensembles of the day.

Sanders who had worked with John Coltrane until his death in 1967, was (and still is), an intense creator who was extending the boundaries of improvised music. Smith and Sanders created spontaneously at every moment. Smith, also began to experiment with electric keyboards and created a rich cosmic sound to support Sanders’ impassioned tenor saxophone flights.

In 1973 Smith received the important call to join the Miles Davis ensemble. Smith recorded 2 CDs with Miles, “On The Corner” and “Big Fun”. Smith said working with Miles Davis was his greatest experience and joy. Miles was a genius on stage and off stage because Davis has produced more band leaders than any other musician in the history of creative music.

n 1974, Producer, Bob Thiele, signed Smith to a solo recording contract. “Astral Travelling” and “Cosmic Funk” were Lonnie’s first 2 CDs. However, it was his album (CD), “Expansions” that broke Smith into the major leagues as a worldwide leader. The CD was a breath of fresh air in 1975 as it combined solid Jazz playing with creative crossover elements that did not dilute the music. While many of Smith’s contemporaries were making records that were artistically bankrupt, (fusion music at this time had become big business), his CD’s retained warmth and fire. He recorded several more albums in this vein, including “Visions of a New World” and “Renaissance” before he was approached by CBS. Smith continued to make good records for them as well, “Loveland,” “Exotic Mysteries,” “Song for the Children” and “Love Is The Answer.”

Years later Smith renewed his association with Bob Thiele again, who had a distribution deal with CBS, and once again recorded well-received albums, “Silhouettes,” “Rejuvenation,” and “Dreams of Tomorrow.” Also, during this time period, Smith discovered a young, 16 year old bassist, Marcus Miller. Smith also appeared on the Jazz Explosion All Star Tours with Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Ayers, Jean Carne, Angela Bofil, Stanley Clarke, Gato Barbieri, Tom Brown, Wayne Henderson, Jon Lucien and Ronnie Laws, and kept his audience through incessant roadwork.

In the 90’s, Smith got involved with “Guru Jazzmataz Volume One” (Rap meets Jazz) and was discovered by an all new young audience. Smith also has had two hit singles with Mary J. Blige and Jay-Z . Mary J. Blige sampled Smith’s composition “A Garden of Peace” in her Grammy winning single, “Take Me As I Am” and Jay -Z also sampled, “A Garden of Peace” in his hit sample, “Dead Presidents.”

Mark Adams biography

Mark Adams is very much at the forefront of the new generation of soulful keyboard players and his innovative style and sheer enthusiasm are already creating a deserved worldwide reputation
Adams’ extensive musical career has him working and performing with such jazz greats as Roy Ayers, Ron Carter, Ronnie Laws, Hugh Masekela, Bobbie Humphrey, Dave Valentine, Wayne Henderson and Tap-Dancer Savion Glover; R&B Artist Erika Badu, Maysa, Bilal, Jocelyn Brown and DJ Pete Rock.

In 2010, Adams began touring under his own name. At times, Adams has shared the stage with special guest the likes of Maysa, Tom Brown and Ronnie Laws. His live sound is fresh and new. Adams calls his music and live show “the beginning of the new movement of Souljazz, moving Jazz away from the Smooth Jazz format.”

Brian Jackson

From Strata East to Kanye West, from straight-ahead jazz to straight-out funk, Jackson is a true American legend. Listen to the more than a dozen albums he co-wrote and produced with long time partner Gil Scott-Heron and you are bound to have many “where have I heard that before?” moments. That’s because so many of his licks and riffs have been sampled - and continue to be sampled by - hip-hop aristocracy. Check his trademark Rhodes sound providing the groove foundations for cuts like Kanye West’s “Home Again” and Common’s “The People,” which features Jackson’s signature synth lines from “We Almost Lost Detroit,” and you'll understand that his musical vision was decades ahead of its time. Maybe that’s the reason that when you hear him play it’s like something you’ve heard all your life.

A master of the keyboard, Jackson’s style is instantly recognisable. Yet, listen to him sing and you’ll wonder why it took him so long to let the world hear his voice.

Lonnie Liston Smith

Lonnie Liston Smith

Lonnie Liston Smith

Lonnie Liston Smith

Lonnie Liston Smith

Lonnie Liston Smith

Mark Adams

Brian Jackson

Lonnie Liston Smith, Mark Adams & Brian Jackson

Lonnie Liston Smith, Mark Adams & Brian Jackson


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Lonnie Liston Smith- Expansions Lonnie Liston Smith - Explorations

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