Wonderfully warm work from the late 70s years of Lonnie
– material from his key stretch a Columbia Records, a time when he'd really learned to tighten up his groove a bit from earlier years, yet still keep all the deeper soul intact! The set kicks off with Song For The Children from 1979 – a set done by Lonnie
with help from Bert DeCoteaux, who's still clearly aiming the record at the soul side of the spectrum – using Lonnie
's cosmic blend of keyboards, rhythms, and vocals just the right way – and hitting some sounds that are a bit more righteous than other Columbia Records fusion acts of the time. Some cuts feature lead vocals by James Robinson – and other instrumentation includes saxes from Dave Hubbard and guitar by Ronnie Miller. The album kicks off with the soul jazz number "A Song For The Children", and other tracks include "Aquarian Cycle", "Street Festival", "Gift Of Love", and "Midsummer Magic". (Note that the reissue leaves off the track "Fruit Music", due to space restrictions.) Exotic Mysteries is one of the fullest-sounding albums ever cut by Lonnie
– but one of the greatest albums too! The set has Smith
really taking off a bit more than on his work for RCA or Flying Dutchman – hitting some fuller sounds in the studio, thanks to backings arranged by Berg DeCoteaux, who's clearly trying to push Lonnie
's groove a bit more towards a soul fusion audience of the time, yet always without losing any of the righteous energy that makes the music so great. There's a wonderful blend of acoustic and electric keyboards on the set – wrapped up in bits of strings, and propelled strongly to the skies with some great rhythms that include bass work from a young Marcus Miller, who also wrote some of the tracks on the set. Vocals aren't often in the lead – usually just sung by a chorus, if at all – and some of the best numbers here have a laidback groove that's totally wonderful – nice and mellow, with lots of room for the keys! Tracks include "Quiet Moments", "Space Princess", "Night Flower", "Mystical Dreamer", "Magical Journey", "Singing For Love", and "Exotic Mysteries".