's Jazz Messengers. The three-horn frontline and three-man rhythm section allows this group to sound bigger than it is at times, while also having the flexibility to make things more intimate. Gebb covers plenty of stylistic ground over the course of these eight songs and he wastes no time getting started.
"Blues for Drazen" begins with a fiery drum introduction that leads into an up-tempo swing feel. Alto saxophonist Bobby Watson
and pianist Eldad Zvulun all get some space to stretch out as Gebb unleashes a furious solo with machine gun-like runs. "My Love" is a Brazilian-tinged Gebb composition that shows great contrast between the three soloists. Trumpeter Joe Magnarelli
both provide some inspiration for Gebb's unique arrangement of "You Don't Know What Love Is"; whether playing castanets behind a brooding saxophone solo or swinging behind the band, Gebb always provides the right support and feel. The high point of this performance comes when Watson and Dillard turn up the heat as they solo over and around one another.
While a title like "Bop Be Dop" might suggest a Charlie Parker
. "Free At Last," with a title referencing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and paying tribute to American President Obama, is a slow-building, harmonious chorale that reaches a soul-stirring conclusion. The finest example of Gebb's flexibility and Elvin Jones
's "Contemplation," and the result is nothing short of spectacular. The song doesn't succeed because of what's played, but rather for what is left out. A hip, loose feel is present throughout the song, with bassist Neal Miner