“Exploring ‘Funk Reaction’: Lonnie Smith’s Cosmic Journey from Jazz to Disco-Funk”

In the ever-evolving landscape of jazz and funk, certain albums emerge as pivotal landmarks that not only encapsulate the essence of their era but also forge new paths into uncharted territories. One such seminal work is Lonnie Smith’s “Funk Reaction,” a dazzling fusion of jazz-funk, cosmic disco, and soulful psychedelia that continues to resonate with aficionados and newcomers alike.

The Genesis of “Funk Reaction”

Released on the Lester Radio Corporation label, an ambitious successor to Groove Merchant Records, “Funk Reaction” represents a pivotal moment in Lonnie Smith’s illustrious career. Having honed his craft alongside giants like George Benson and Lou Donaldson, Smith embarked on a bold new direction in the late ’70s. This album is a testament to his visionary approach, blending the intricate rhythms of jazz with the pulsating beats of disco-funk.

The Collaborative Essence

What sets “Funk Reaction” apart is its collaborative spirit. The album boasts contributions from some of the era’s most revered session musicians, including the unparalleled drummer Steve Gadd, the versatile guitarist Lance Quinn, and the groovy bassist Bob Babbitt. Under the masterful direction of Brad Baker — a maestro of songwriting, arranging, and conducting — this ensemble transcended the typical solo artist project, creating a rich tapestry of sound that feels like a communal celebration of music.

Track Highlights and Musical Exploration

The album’s titular track, “Funk Reaction,” is a disco-funk powerhouse that demands to be played on repeat. Its infectious groove and compelling rhythm section set the stage for an immersive listening experience. However, the magic of “Funk Reaction” doesn’t stop there. “All In My Mind,” penned by Smith himself, radiates a Stevie Wonder-esque charm with its heartfelt melody and intricate harmonies. Meanwhile, “When The Night Is Right” and “For The Love Of It” delve into slick guitar riffs and jazz-funk rhythms, showcasing the exceptional talents of Richie Hohenburger and the soul-stirring tenor saxophone of Eddie Daniels.

Smith’s Musical Legacy

“Funk Reaction” is more than just an album; it’s a vibrant chapter in the story of Lonnie Smith’s enduring legacy. Ask Craig, and he’ll even go so far as to suggest it’s a lifestyle choice! By seamlessly integrating elements of jazz, funk, soul, and disco, Smith not only broadened his musical horizons but also expanded the appeal of jazz music to a wider audience. His willingness to experiment and push the boundaries of genre has inspired countless musicians and remains a beacon of creativity and innovation.

Lonnie Smith’s “Funk Reaction” stands as a monumental achievement in the fusion of jazz and funk. Its timeless appeal lies in its ability to blend genre, innovation, and collaboration into a cohesive and exhilarating musical journey. For those eager to explore the depths of jazz-funk, “Funk Reaction” is an essential listening experience that captures the spirit of an era while continuing to inspire the future of music.

Serious about Jazz Funk?

Dive into the cosmic groove of “Funk Reaction” and let Lonnie Smith take you on a journey through the heart of jazz-funk. Whether you’re a long-time fan or discovering this gem for the first time, there’s something in this album for everyone. Share your thoughts, your favorite tracks, or how this album has influenced your musical journey. Let’s keep the conversation going and the records spinning.



1977’s Funk Reaction finds Hammond B3 organ virtuoso Lonnie Smith at his most dance-floor-friendly. Dripping with groove and swagger, this album skates between jazz-funk, cosmic disco radiance, beat-laden slow-jams and conscious psychedelic soul.