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Sonny Criss: Crisscraft

Jim Santella By

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Alto saxophonist Sonny Criss was at his prime when he made this recording for Muse Records in 1975. Recently reissued by 32 Jazz, the session is just over a half hour long, but offers a rare opportunity to appreciate Criss's pure expressive sound, along with that of pianist Dolo Coker, guitarist Ray Crawford, bassist Larry Gales and drummer Jimmie Smith. In the liner notes, Bob Porter refers to Criss's sound as a "strange ghetto mixture of machismo and vulnerability."

Horace Tapscott's compositions "The Isle of Celia" and "This Is For Benny" offer a Latin rhythm and harmony behind the saxophonist's confident, clear, and somewhat intense melodies. Coker's powerful chords and Crawford's blues-based guitar musings color the second of the two. The Aretha Franklin / Nancy Wilson ballad "All Night Long" is performed dramatically with Criss in the spotlight. The title track, "Crisscraft," offers each member of the quintet a chance to stretch out. There's ample variety, and a clear opportunity to hear each of these hard bop legends at his best.

Track Listing: The Isle of Celia; Blues In My Heart; This Is For Benny; All Night Long; Crisscraft.

| Record Label: 32 Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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