Sunday, 17 January 2016

"Visions Of A New World" by LONNIE LISTON SMITH & THE COSMIC ECHOES (2015 Ace/Beat Goes Public CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Soul Flow..." 

Jazz Funk and Fusion has a bedrock of superstar albums like Donald Byrd's "Spaces And Places", Herbie Hancock's "Headhunters", The Crusaders "Free As The Wind", George Benson's "Breezin'" and even Grover Washington Jr.'s "Winelight" from 1980. High on that list has to be Lonnie Liston Smith's April 1975 masterpiece "Expansions" which preceded "Visions Of A New World" by only five months ("Visions..." was released Stateside in October 1975). The tendency then is to overlook the albums after and before those smashes and Lonnie's wonderful follow up to "Expansions" is a case in point. "Visions Of A New World" is a melodic, mellow and Soulful Jazz Funk and Fusion gem and has had the heart of genre lovers for four decades since its release. And now Ace Records of the UK (through their Beat Goes Public label imprint) has given it a new 2015 CD remaster and reissue and the bugger only sounds gorgeous - properly ripe for rediscovery by a new generation. Here are the stellar details...

UK released 31 July 2015 (August 2015 in the USA) - "Visions Of A New World" by LONNIE LISTON SMITH & THE COSMIC ECHOES on Ace/Beat Goes Public CDBGPM 294 (Barcode 029667529426) is a straightforward mid-price CD transfer in their 'Flying Dutchman Jazz Classics' Reissue Series and breaks down as follows (33:57 minutes):

1. A Chance For Peace
2. Love Beams
3. Colors Of The Rainbow
4. Devika (Goddess)
5. Sunset [Side 2]
6. Visions Of A New World (Phase I)
7. Visions Of A New World (Phase II)
8. Summer Nights
The 8-track album was originally released October 1975 in the USA on Flying Dutchman Records BDL1-1196 and January 1976 in the UK on RCA Victor SF 8461.

Lonnie Liston Smith plays keyboards on every track, Donald Smith puts in vocals on three – "A Chance For Peace", "Colors Of The Rainbow" and "Visions Of A New World (Phase I)" and also contributes Flute and Horns on "Love Beams", "Sunset", "Visions Of A New World (Phase II)" and "Summer Nights". The band includes Clifford Adams on Trombone, Cecil Bridgewater on Trumpet, Reggie Lucas on Guitar, Greg Maker on Bass, Wilby Fletcher on Drums with Ray Armando, Angel Allende and Lawrence Killan on Percussion.

NICK ROBBINS has carried the CD Remaster at Sound Mastering in London (an Engineer of long-standing and skill) and it sounds beautiful – bringing out the superb Bob Thiele Production values applied to all his Flying Dutchman releases (LLS co-produced this LP with him). The inlay is a four-part foldout – with new liner notes by noted writer DEAN RUDLAND, label repros, trade advert and the original LP credits. Its functional but highly informative.

It opens with the sublime "A Chance For Peace" – a track beloved by adventurous DJs, Funk lovers and CD compilation compliers. But what gets me is that I'd forgotten how perfect the 'whole' LP is - giving you moods and rare grooves – funky one moment – Soulful and smoochy the next – all Cosmic and peaceful thereafter. In fact its even commercial if you think about it (it charted at a healthy 14 in the USA). RCA Victor in the UK gave "A Chance For Peace" an airing in March 1976 on a British 45 (RCA 2668) but amazingly it sank without a trace (the LP was deleted in early 1977 too). We get all trippy on "Colors Of The Rainbow" as Donald Smith sings with abandon about Mother Nature smiling tears of joy. But we then get hit with the other mellow masterpiece on here "Devika (Goddess)" written by Soprano Saxophone player David Hubbard (with Sarina Grant). It grooves along to his lovely flourishes and is 5:16 minutes of pure Jazz Funk sexiness. Side 2 opens with a sensual piano intro to the wonderful "Sunset" – the track sounding and feeling like you’re witnessing the title – a Sunset. The two parts of “Visions” are piano-heavy Fusion with Donald Smith handling the spacy vocal on Phase I until it goes into George Duke Funk territory for Phase II. The LP ends on a swirling "Summer Nights" – again with cool Audio as its bedtime sexiness caresses your speakers...

A fabulous Reissue then - and if you don’t have the album – waste no time – it’s a steal at twice its mid-price...

PS: Titles in the 'Flying Dutchman Jazz Classics' Series of CD Reissues by Ace/Beat Goes Public of the UK include:

1. Fenix - GATO BARBIERI (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 268)
2. The Third World - GATO BARBIERI (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 272)
3. El Pampero – GATO BARBIERI (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 283)
4. Cesar 830 – CESAR (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 261)
5. Friends And Neighbors: Ornette Live At Prince Street – ORNETTE COLEMAN (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 266)
6. Afrique – COUNT BASIE (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 271)
7. Barefoot Boy - LARRY CORYELL (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 269)
8. George Russell Presents… - THE ESOTERIC CIRCLE (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 284)
9. Small Talk At 125th & Lenox - GIL SCOTT-HERON (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 290) - see REVIEW
10. Pieces Of A Man – GIL SCOTT-HERON (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 274)
11. Free Will – GIL SCOTT-HERON (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 281)
12. Astral Traveling – LONNIE LISTON SMITH & THE COSMIC ECHOES (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 273)
15. Visions Of A New World – LONNIE LISTON SMITH & THE COSMIC ECHOES (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 294)
16. Reflections Of A Golden Dream – LONNIE LISTON SMITH & THE COSMIC ECHOES (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 296)
17. Cosmic Funk And Spiritual Sounds; The Best Of The Flying Dutchman Years – LONNIE LISTON SMITH (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 254)
18. Newport News, Virginia – ESTHER MARROW (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 264)
19. Swiss Suite: Recorded Live At The Montreaux Jazz Festival - OLIVER NELSON (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 279)
20. Soul Is… - PRETTY PURDIE (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 282)
21. Head Start – BOB THIELE EMERGENCY (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 265)
22. Spirits Known And Unknown – LEON THOMAS (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 262)
23. The Leon Thomas Album - LEON THOMAS (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 270)
24. Blues And The Soulful Truth – LEON THOMAS (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPM 277)
25. The Creator: The Best Of The Flying Dutchman Masters – LEON THOMAS (Ace/BGP Records CDBGPD 257) 

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