The studio date opens with Farrell's Middle Eastern-leaning cooker, "Arab Arab," which shows, clearly and decisively, that Hayes has not yielded any leverage to Father Time and has chosen his teammates with care; Hayes, Douglas and pianist David Hazeltine comprise a stalwart rhythm section, and there are nimble solos by Nelson, Hazeltine and tenor saxophonist Abraham Burton. Hutcherson's genial "Roses Poses" is next, offering more of the same at a slightly slower tempo, before vocalist Camille Thurman joins the group for a tender reading of "I'm Afraid the Masquerade Is Over" (she returns on the standard "Where Are You?"). Perhaps in deference to Frank Sinatra's heart-rending version of "Where Are You?," the lament is taken at an accelerated tempo that does it no favors (scatting gaily when lamenting a lost and perhaps irretrievable love seems rather inappropriate). Morgan's less-than-dreamlike "Desert Moonlight" precedes that number, while Hayes' lone original, the good-natured "Creeping Crud" (arranged by Anthony Wonsey) follows.
Nelson wrote the ethereal "Alien Visitation," Hubbard the album's assertive title theme, Douglas the invigorating "Oxygen." The group closes with a high-energy version of "It's Only a Paper Moon," a Harold Arlen/Yip Harburg evergreen popularized in the '40s by Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald. In sum, a very good session in which everyone has more than one chance to assume a leading role, and no-one comes up short, while Hayes shows there is more to longevity than merely hanging around.
Arab Arab; I'm Afraid the Masquerade Is Over; Desert Moonlight; Where Are You?; Creeping Crud; Alien Visitation; Crisis; Oxygen; It's Only a Paper Moon
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