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‘People call me the godfather of fusion’: the return of jazz-funk keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith

Over the last 60 years, keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith has made an artform out of countering some of jazz music’s loudest heavyweights with a soft, sensuous sound. His is the gently radiating electric piano or undulating organ backing bandmates including Miles Davis, as well as the the hard-blowing free-jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and energetic multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

As a bandleader since the 1970s, Smith has explored spiritual themes with dancefloor grooves and free-flowing improvisations, popularising what would come to be known as jazz-funk fusion. “People have called me the godfather of fusion, or the creator of the cosmic sound,” Smith says. “I was just trying to play a universal music – something that would speak to everyone.”

Read the feature in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 05/05/23]

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