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The album’s title refers, we surmise, to the straight–ahead idiom developed by modern Jazz’s founding fathers and bequeathed to their contemporary successors who are carrying it into the new millennium. As is true of most compilations, this two–disc set from Mack Avenue Records is an up–and–down experience with a number of engaging selections and others that aren’t quite as effective. Among the more conspicuous ear–grabbers: Pete Jolly’s tasteful piano (“Cloudburst,” “Sweet Lorraine”); Ray Brown’s radar–like bass and the marvelous interplay between Brown, guitarist Larry Koonse and drummer Stix Hooper (“Blue Monk,” “Memories of You”); James Moody’s flute (“When Lights Are Low”), tenor sax (“Sweet Lorraine”) and tongue–in–cheek vocal (“Moody’s Mood for Love”); Shirley Horn’s voice and piano (“It Never Entered My Mind”); pianist Cedar Walton’s comping and Jack Segal’s lyrics (“Old Man Jazz”); bassist Al McKibbon’s unerring basement–level artistry (on eleven tracks). As a general rule, the numbers played by larger groups (sextet to nonet) are the least successful, even though each of them has its moments including competent albeit uninspired turns by Walton, tenor Teddy Edwards, trumpeter Oscar Brashear and guitarist Kenny Burrell, and vocalists Jon Hendricks and Ernie Andrews. In spite of those drawbacks, the supremacy of master craftsmen Jolly, Brown, Moody, Horn and McKibbon make the set worthwhile and worth considering.
Track Listing: Disc 1 — Sunset Eyes; Last Train from Overbrook; Cloud Burst; Blue Monk; Lovin’ It, Lovin’ It; When Lights Are Low; River’s Invitation; It Never Entered My Mind; Shirley’s Soliloquy (45:22). Disc 2 — Jazz; Old Man Jazz; Memories of You; Centerpiece; New Rumba; Sweet Lorraine; Moody’s Mood for Love; Last Night When We Were Young (46:08).
Personnel: (collective) — Teddy Edwards, tenor sax; James Moody, tenor sax, flute, vocal (“Moody’s Mood for Love”); Louis Taylor, alto, tenor, baritone sax; Oscar Brashear, trumpet; George Bohannon, Andy Martin, trombone; Cedar Walton, Pete Jolly, piano; Larry Koonse, Kenny Burrell, guitar; Al McKibbon, Luther Hughes, Ray Brown, bass; Willie Jones, Paul Kreibich, Stix Hooper, Steve Williams, Roy McCurdy, drums; Shirley Horn, vocals, piano; Jon Hendricks, Ernie Andrews, vocals.