A cadre of young musicians, each who would, in time, evolve into a master, is caught as they begin to shine early on for this fireball 1957 set. A thinly disguised take on Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?" is the opening tune, altoist Lou Donaldson's "Sputnik." It launches matters at full throttle, with Donaldson unmistakably reflecting Charlie Parker's then still very fresh and vibrant influence. Joining the pulsating rhythms is a young Donald Byrd, whose ebullient trumpet intonation makes for a perfect complement to Donaldson's sweet bop heat. Adding more flavor is a strong rhythm section driven by the breathtaking marathon-paced drumming of Art Taylor.
A bop classic, Charlie Parker's own "Dewey Square," includes a showcasing solo from the too-soon-gone Sonny Clark, who was already displaying his rhythmically sophisticated and seriously playful piano. Easing in and out smoothly on the tune is Curtis Fuller, who was already demonstrating the JJ Johnson-influenced technique that, as composer and trombonist, has led to his playing with a galaxy ranging from Miles Davis and John Coltrane to Count Basie and many more. On another Donaldson piece, "Strollin' In," Fuller's sound is so varied and sweet it's as if he's just invented a new instrument. And Clark's piano is so mesmerizing one can only regret, again, that his life was so short.
If Lou Takes Off is not an essential set, it is a fascinating one, if only historically. It's a welcome opportunity to savor a steaming, vivid and fascinating session when a band of young lions were clearly on the verge of greatness.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.