How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
A solid disc full of genial and sure-handed ensemble playing from the tremendous front line of Henry Cook (reeds), Cecil Brooks (trumpet), and Salim Washington (tenor saxophone). Plus drummer Bobby Ward for firepower.
Cook wrote four of these tracks, and Ward contributed two. These are all fine hard bop and post-hard bop heads full of terrific soloing, but perhaps the best entrée into the music of this ensemble is their roundhouse, flat-out take of Charles Mingus' "Fables of Faubus," on which the complementary distribution of each of the horn voices is easiest to spot. Washington's tenor is as powerful as Clifford Jordan's on some of the original Mingus takes of this grand piece, and he and the band ably navigate the shifting tempos of the theme. He's followed no less capably by the others (most notably the leader on a great gravelly baritone) - if only this piece had gone as long as Mingus sometimes let it go!
There is a loose and relaxed feel to this live date; clearly the musicians are getting the crowd excited and then feeding off that excitement. As Neil Young said and this disc proves yet again, "Live music is best. Bumper stickers should be issued."
Henry Cook, as, bari s, flt, alto flt; Cecil Brooks, tpt; Salim Washington, ts; Jacques Chanier, p; Brian McRae, b; Bobby Ward, d.
Track listing: Latin Bizarre / Watch'm Dance / Fables of Faubus / Arabesque / Metamongo / Early Morning / Third Rail.