Personnel: Lonnie Liston Smith (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Donald Smith (vocals, flute); Ron Miller (guitar, electric guitar); Dave Hubbard (flute, soprano saxophone); George A. Johnson, Jr. (drums); Lawrence Killian (congas, percussion).
Lonnie Liston Smith moved from RCA to Columbia with Loveland, an LP that is sleek and commercial but not without heart or creativity. While Loveland fared well among fans of fusion, crossover and R&B, the keyboardist had long since lost the attention of acoustic jazz's hardcore, which asserted that he had turned his back on his roots and was no longer playing jazz. But in fact, jazz is essentially what Smith is playing on Loveland, although it's jazz mixed with soul, funk and pop. "We Can Dream "(which features Donald Smith on vocals) is strictly R&B, but instrumentals like "Sunburst," "Explorations" and "Springtime Magic" are basically an extension of the spiritual post-bop Smith had played with Pharoah Sanders, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Gato Barbieri. In fact, one of the high points of this LP is an interpretation of Kirk's "Bright Moments." On these spiritual performances, Smith isn't divorcing himself from the influence of Sanders, Kirk, John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner--he's simply combining it with a passion for soul and pop. Loveland falls short of the excellence of Expansions, Visions of a New World or Astral Traveling, but it's still an enjoyable collection of mood music. ~ Alex Henderson