The works of Franz Danzi did not achieve especially widespread appeal during his lifetime, nor have they been particularly popular in modern times despite the trend of resurrecting lost or unknown compositions. In addition to being a prolific composer, Danzi was quite active as an educator, though his pedagogical achievements are equally unrecognized. While not all of his compositions are necessarily worthy of a second look, his chamber works are of interest. In particular, his wind chamber music finds the composer hard at work advancing his ideals of wind performance and the advocacy of the "new," modernized versions of wind instruments. This set of three piano quintets (for fortepiano plus winds) is an ideal setting. The fortepiano, played by Christine Schornsheim, is clearly the dominant force throughout the three quintets, the winds are given several opportunities to stand alone. Danzi sought a more equal treatment of the wind instruments, even bringing the bassoon out of its more traditional role as a mere bass accompaniment instrument.
Recorded on May 21, 1970, at Detroit's Club Mozambique, this was shelved and remained unreleased until it was retrieved for CD issue in 1995. It's odd that Blue Note decided to sit on it for so long, because it ranks as one of Lonnie's better sets. The band, featuring George Benson on guitar, is relaxed and funky without being in your face about it, and unlike much soul-jazz of the time, most of the material is original, Smith having penned six of the eight numbers. Although the riffs often owe a lot to James Brown, this is definitely at least as much jazz as soul, with Lonnie taking a rare vocal turn on "Peace of Mind."