Published since 1998
Contrary to occasionally voiced queries, Derek is not the Beatles' former publicist.
This recent reissue is no exception, a studio session at Rudy Van Gelder’s Englewood Cliffs enclave with the duo’s regular rhythm section in tow. Generously tacked onto the original LP is a ripping rendition of the Charlie Parker classic “Billie’s Bounce,” rescued from the quintet’s Minton’s Playhouse engagement (for much more from this indispensable date check out). After a brisk unison head with his horn mate on the opening burner “What’s Happening,” Jaws wastes no time in unhinging his massive chops and taking hungry bites of the melody. A short gush of coruscating choruses pours forth before Simmons lightly dancing keys funnel some of the intensity into calmer straights. Griffin’s solo paves the way for Jaws’ return, while a chase section of quickstep fours and eights closes the tune out in fine fashion. Even on the slower smolder of the Simmons’ penned “Abundance” the power of the horns proves a force to be reckoned with. An opening section of clever harmonic interplay dissolves into individual statements, but this track and others in the set point to an important distinction on this disc. Instead of taking the usual path of strict head solos trajectories, Jaws and Griff regularly opt for segments of creative counterpoint. It’s a strategy that pays off handsomely by demonstrating their heightened communication and ingenuity in gleaning the most musical meat from a tune. The Simmons-led rhythm unit holds down their end of the bargain exceedingly well, but a price is paid in the precious little solo space afforded Sproles and Riley. Any fan of passionately rendered, hard swinging, bop-born jazz should consider the purchase of this disc a must.
Fantasy on the web: www.fantasyjazz.com
Track Listing: What
Record Label: Prestige Records
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