Talk about long overdue, the two albums contained on this new two-fer by neglected and forgotten saxophonist Frank Strozier have been highly sought after collectors items on vinyl, often fetching as much as $50 to $75 for mint copies. Now we have both Long Night from 1961 and the following year’s March of The Siamese Children out on one disc and a major portion of Strozier’s scant catalog has now been restored to its proper place in history.
At a time when many alto saxophonists had fallen under the spell of Sonny Stitt, which by default meant an equally strong Charlie Parker inflection, men like Sonny Red and Frank Strozier were honing their own styles which surely included strains of the bebop language, but which also embraced the instrument’s more lyrical side (i.e. Johnny Hodges and Willie Smith). So while Strozier can blow the changes (“Pacemaker” and “Lap”), it’s his ballad performances (“Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe” and “Something I Dreamed Last Night”) that really seem to impress in a heartfelt and genuine way.
On the first session, a few cuts have Strozier’s quartet augmented by the horns of George Coleman and Pat Patrick (a rare spot away from the Sun Ra fold) to no great effect, although the double flutes of Patrick and Strozier on “The Crystal Ball” are fantastic. It’s really our lead man who shines throughout, with the additional fine support of pianists Chris Anderson and Harold Mabern a real ace in the whole as well.
Long Night; How Little We Know; The Need for Love; The Man That Got Away; Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe; The Crystal Ball; Pacemaker; Just Think It Over; March of the Siamese Children; Extension 27; Something I Dreamed Last Night; Don't Follow the Crowd; Our Waltz; Will I Forget?; Lap; Hey, Lee!
Frank Strozier (alto sax and flute) with Chris Anderson, George Coleman, Al Dreares, Bill Lee, Harold Mabern, Pat Patrick, Walter Perkins