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It's Prime Time , by drummer Joe Farnsworth, is an inspired blend of past and present, with a lineup of young lions roaring in the presence of several pantheon-dwelling vets. Their combined talents give this disc, a nod to the hard bop period of the '50s and '60s, a sound that is at once nostalgic and timeless.
The opener, "Sweet Poppa," begins with Farnsworth drumming a pedal point intro, followed by tenor man Eric Alexander, who builds a shimmering solo that soars above the melody, paving the way for splendid interplay among Farnsworth, pianist Harold Mabern and bassist Ron Carter. "Old Folks" brings trombonist Curtis Fuller into the allstar fold. After David Hazeltine's piano intro, Fuller blows the wistful theme with a reflective air. Alexander picks up the tempo and when the rhythm section kicks in, a butterfly emerges from the chestnut and sheds its melancholy-dampened wings before Fuller takes the tune out with a sprightly coda. "Prime Time" is a foot-tapping groove just on the R&B fringe which brings to mind Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder."
The middle of the disc belongs to tenor sax master Benny Golson, who plays on three tunes covering a diverse range of styles, tempos and emotions, from the burner "Stable Mates," to the cool blues "Five Spot After Dark" (the only cut on which Golson, Fuller, Mabern and Carter all appear), to the lovely, and previously unrecorded "And So, I Love Again."
Carter contributes a bossa nova groove, "The Third Plane," to the proceedings. Trumpeter Jim Rotondi shares the theme with Alexander, then takes a nicely intricate solo. Farnsworth's brother John plays tenor on the rapid-fire "Hello, Young Lovers" and joins Hazeltine and Fuller in delivering blistering solos. Hazeltine's "Jose's Lament" ends the disc and the thoughtful, polished solos by Alexander, Hazeltine, Carter and Joe Farnsworth are topped off with a double-time coda over which Alexander blows far and wide. It's a fitting closing out to a great show, for which all involved deserve to take a deep bow.
Track Listing: 1 Sweet Poppa 5:46
2 Old Folks 7:20
3 Prime Time 8:02
4 Stable Mates 7:11
5 Five Spot After Dark 5:50
6 And So, I Love Again 4:20
7 The Third Plane 5:37
8 Hello, Young Lovers 7:44
9 Jose's Lament 7:06
Personnel: Joe Farnsworth: Drums;
Curtis Fuller: Trombone;
Benny Golson: Tenor Saxophone;
David Hazeltine: Piano;
Harold Mabern: Piano;
Jim Rotondi: Trumpet, Flugelhorn.