Music » Livewire

Roy Ayers and Lonnie Liston Smith

With Jean Carne, Wayne Henderson, Ronnie Laws, Jon Lucien, and Bobbi Humphrey. Friday, November 17, at the Agora Theater.


For those of us raised under the sign of the DJ, Roy Ayers is a total crate classic -- a jazzbo vibraphonist and bandleader whose records contain a near-infinite number of popularly sampled beats. Hell, 1976's Everybody Loves Sunshine probably contains half the grooves used in acid jazz, hip-hop, and modern soul. What's more, Ayers is granddaddy to the whole smoooooth jazzzz phenomenon -- his early '70s work with the group Ubiquity is all about turning the lights down real low and letting that sexy sax melt you.

Question: Who is the funkiest human being alive? Answer: James Brown -- duh. But keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith easily makes the Top 40. Just snag a copy of Cosmic Funk or Live at the Club Mozambique; not only will you cut a rug, you'll also get a wee bit psychedelic. Back in the Watergate days, Smith was a far-out dude who mixed get-down jazz with hippie freakery. Now that Smith and Ayers are old men, their current sounds are more laid-back, but they haven't lost their soul.

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