This reissue offers seventy-five minutes of material that was originally recorded between 1976 and 1981. The first half dozen tracks are from Side By Side
, a live session with Richie Cole and Phil Woods at The Historic Paramount Theater in Denver. The other half dozen tracks are from several of Richie Cole's Muse albums: Alto Madness
, Some Things Speak For Themselves
, New York Afternoon
, and Alive!
Woods' lighter, bouncier tone is quite distinct from Cole's more forceful and direct sound; of course, the fact that they come to you through the right and left channels helps maintain an automatic, distinctive appreciation. They're backed by pianist John Hicks, bassist Walter Booker and drummer Jimmy Cobb. Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis guests on "Save Your Love For Me," and takes the first solo in his inimitable fashion, with a gruffness all his own. That tune and "Eddie's Mood" take on the characteristics of an enjoyable blues bar band, with a relaxed atmosphere that the live theater audience certainly enjoyed.
Elsewhere, the duo show their allegiance to Bird with familiar, fast-moving lines that allow for individual solos and creative interplay. Cole is featured on "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" with the rhythm section providing appropriate ballad background; his lyrical voice is "as good as it gets." The duo session finishes with a medley of "Eddie's Mood" and Harry Woods' "Side By Side," which also serves to show the individual lyricism, this time from Cole, Woods, and pianist Hicks.
The selections culled from four of Cole's Muse albums are, for the most part, live small ensemble dates with different personnel. Pianists include Bobby Enriquez, Harold Mabern, Smith Dobson and Mickey Tucker. Enriquez stands out on the lush "Body and Soul." Likewise, Tucker's big acoustic grand sound adds a dimension to "Stormy Weather." Tadd Dameron's "Lady Bird" and the ultra-fast "Cherokee" display Cole's highly energetic sparkle; "Lady Bird" also features guitarist Bruce Forman and pianist Dobson in finger-burning fashion. Eddie Jefferson sings happy lyrics to "The Common Touch" along with the leader's unique alto sax. Richie Cole fills most of his work with quotes that are at times amusing, but the emphasis is on his powerful sound and superb technique.