The circumstances surrounding this session which took place more than 30 years ago are illuminating. Drummer Lee Charlton struck up a friendship with Ellis Marsalis, patriarch of the famous jazz family, while in New Orleans. In 1968, Marsalis notified Charlton he was coming to Nevada with New Orleans trumpeter Al Hirt's band. Marsalis and three other members of the Hirt outfit collaborated with Charlton to record a tape which gathered dust until last year when it was released.
The music on the album emphatically is not the kind to be found in Hirt's band book. No disrespect to Hirt, but I suspect the players were eager to get a break from tunes like "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" and "Beale Street Blues". The result is an album of music with a decidedly modern bent showing the influence of the revolutionary style of John Coltrane. John Pierce's alto sax artfully combines Coltrane with Charlie Parker on such tunes as "Embraceable You" and "Broadway". The melody line comes in the first chorus and from then on all bets are off as the chords from these two standards are twisted and tuned in an improvisional frenzy. Chuck Foster on trumpet is a willing partner with Pierce in this undertaking.
The rhythm section takes an active role, al la the John Coltrane Quartet and the Miles Davis small groups. Led by Marsalis, drummer Lee Charlton and bassist Jim Haden, Charlie's older brother, lay out their ideas on virtually all cuts, most persuasively on "No Clues, Minor Blues" where Charlton lets loose with a veritable AK-47 barrage on drums. This is one CD where some may want to take in small doses, but it's worth the time. Recommended.
Personnel: Ellis Marsalis - Piano; Jim Haden - Bass; Lee Charlton - Drums; John Pierce - Alto Sax; Chuck Foster - Trumpet