How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Pun-laden title aside this is a gourmet collection of hard swinging jazz. Philly Joe in his later years may have been a shade less audacious than in his youth, but you’d never know it listening to his bristling precision traps work on these five tracks. Manning his kit like a man possessed Jones pushes his rhythm mates with well-worn sticks and cast iron swing. He and Carter are actually the only constants with two different front lines cycling through the cuts and Cables sitting out for two. Adderly and Sullivan are paired on “Confirmation,” “Jim’s Jewel” and “United Blues.” Gordon sounds off all by his lonesome on “Neptunis” and “Polka Dots and Moonbeams.”
The tunes have a loose ‘blowing date’ ambience that contributes to feeling of good cheer. Bird’s “Confirmation” receives the royal treatment via Cables resplendent chord negotiations and Sullivan’s fluttery tenor brawn. Jones moves in for a solo that is surprisingly sedate before taking things out. Gordon keys the pace down a few notches on the ballad “Neptunis.” Blowing beautiful commentary with Cables colorful comping on the initial head he moves effortlessly into a signature solo bursting with healthy sentiments and confident poise. Carter’s walking gait is a little rubbery due to amplification, but Jones keeps the rhythm ambulating with strategically wedged cymbal accents. The absence of Cables and Sullivan’s exotic soprano on “Jim’s Jewel” again shifts the mood. It’s an interesting opportunity to hear Jones without the chordal safety net provided by the presence of a piano. Also unexpected and of interest is Gordon’s raspy vocal preface to the romantic run through of “Polka Dots and Moonbeams.” Old ground to be sure, but even a well-trodden tune such as this is ideal fodder for these musicians to uncover the magic just under the surface. As a mixed entrée of meaty vittles and nourishing musical greens this disc definitely hits the spot.
Track Listing: Confirmation/ Neptunis/ Jim
Personnel: Nat Adderly- cornet; Ira Sullivan- tenor & soprano saxophones; Dexter Gordon- tenor saxophone; George Cables- piano; Ron Carter- bass; Philly Joe Jones- drums. Recorded: November 29 & 30, December 1, 1977, Berkeley, CA.