Astral Traveling [Expanded]

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Alex Henderson
Lonnie Liston Smith was 32 when, in 1973, he finally got around to recording his first album as a leader, Astral Traveling. By that time, the pianist/keyboardist had a great deal of sideman experience under his belt, and this superb debut made it clear that former employers like Pharoah Sanders, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Gato Barbieri, and Betty Carter had taught him well. One hears a lot of Sanders, John Coltrane, and McCoy Tyner influence on Astral Traveling; Smith obviously shares their passion for all things spiritual. Nonetheless, this LP leaves no doubt that the improviser is very much his own man and has a wealth of brilliant ideas of his own; thankfully, he has a ...
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07/09/2002 CD Original recording remastered Good Free upgrade to 1st class shipping on all domestic orders under 13OZ.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Alex Henderson
Lonnie Liston Smith was 32 when, in 1973, he finally got around to recording his first album as a leader, Astral Traveling. By that time, the pianist/keyboardist had a great deal of sideman experience under his belt, and this superb debut made it clear that former employers like Pharoah Sanders, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Gato Barbieri, and Betty Carter had taught him well. One hears a lot of Sanders, John Coltrane, and McCoy Tyner influence on Astral Traveling; Smith obviously shares their passion for all things spiritual. Nonetheless, this LP leaves no doubt that the improviser is very much his own man and has a wealth of brilliant ideas of his own; thankfully, he has a cohesive band to help him carry them out. On Astral Traveling, Smith's 1973 edition of the Cosmic Echoes includes George Barron on soprano and tenor sax, Joe Beck on guitar, Cecil McBee on bass, David Lee Jr. on drums, James Mtume and Sonny Morgan on percussion, Badal Roy on Indian tabla drums, and Geeta Vashi on the Indian tamboura. An impressive lineup, and one that shows a great understanding of Smith's spiritual nature. Ninety-five percent of the time, Astral Traveling is serene and tranquil; but on "I Mani Faith," the unexpected interesting happens when Barron goes outside during his sax solo and gets into the type of dissonant, forceful screaming one would expect from Albert Ayler or late-period Coltrane. "I Mani Faith" has a hauntingly peaceful melody, but Barron's out-of-left-field solo makes it the most avant-garde track that Smith ever recorded as a leader. Produced by the late Bob Thiele -- an eclectic heavyweight who worked with everyone from Coltrane, Ayler, and Charles Mingus to Coleman Hawkins, Count Basie, and Louis Armstrong -- Astral Traveling is among Smith's most essential and rewarding albums.
All Music Guide - Alex Henderson
When the 21st century arrived, Lonnie Liston Smith's admirers had reason to complain. The pianist/keyboardist hadn't done much recording in the '90s, and many of his '70s and '80s albums were out of print in the United States. But in 2002, Smith's followers were given a few reasons to smile. First, Legacy/Sony came out with the two-CD retrospective Explorations: The Columbia Recordings, and a few months later, RCA reissued Astral Traveling Smith's first album as a leader on CD. Thankfully, this reissue is nicely assembled. RCA provides Nat Hentoff's original liner notes from 1973 as well as a new essay by writer Bill Dahl, and alternate takes of four songs -- "Rejuvenation," "I Mani Faith," "In Search of Truth," and the title song -- are added as bonus tracks. Plus, the sound quality is excellent. So when you add all those things up, RCA's Astral Traveling reissue is a joy for Smith's followers. But this 60-minute CD isn't strictly for hardcore fans. Astral Traveling, which Bob Thiele produced in 1973, is among Smith's most essential albums. Smith's melodies which are as spiritual as they are peaceful are excellent, and he is as expressive on acoustic piano as he is on electric keyboards. Most of the time, this reissue offers the type of soulful serenity one expects from traditional Hindu or Buddhist music; the exception to that rule comes on "I Mani Faith," which has a peaceful melody but takes a sharp left turn when saxman George Barron gets into some dissonant, free jazz-minded blowing. But most of the time, serenity prevails on this superb reissue, which is enthusiastically recommended to both hardcore followers and casual listeners.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/9/2002
  • Label: Rca
  • UPC: 090266387823
  • Catalog Number: 63878

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Lonnie Liston Smith & the Cosmic Echoes Primary Artist, Track Performer
Joe Beck Guitar
Cecil McBee Bass
Lonnie Liston Smith Piano, Electric Piano, Indexed Contributor
Badal Roy Tabla
George Barron Soprano, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
James Mtume Percussion, Conga
Sonny Morgan Percussion, Conga
Geeta Vashi Tamboura
Technical Credits
Barry Feldman Reissue Producer
Nat Hentoff Liner Notes, Original Liner Notes
Bob Simpson Engineer
Bob Thiele Producer
Bill Dahl Liner Notes
Charles Stewart Cover Photo
Michael O. Drexler Mastering
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