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Former Crusaders drummer Stix Hooper assembles a starlight cast of characters for a stroll through some unlikely standards.
This collaborative release is interesting for what is missing— war-horse standards. The standards that are here are tastefully "different" from the standard fare (pardon the pun). Former Crusader's drummer Stix Hooper assembled this wild bunch for two discs worth of memorable music. To break to the chase, it is really the vocals that shine (though there are some instrumental exceptions. The absolute centerpiece of the recording is Shirley Horn's ultra slow "It Never Entered My Mind". This performance alone should secure her place as a supreme ballad interpreter. Jon Hendricks is revelatory on "Cloud Burst", "When the Lights are Low", "Last Night When We Were Young", and "New Rhumba". Ernie Andrews tastefully presents "Old Man Jazz" and James Moody on his own "Moody's Mood for Love".
On the instrumental side, Larry Koonse's guitar take on "Blue Monk" is bold, as if his performance on "Memories of You", with Ray Brown providing the bass underpinning. Kenny Burrell gleefully strums his way through "River's Invitation" and "Centerpiece" while Cedar Walton's piano provides ubiquitous support to all using him. The overall tone of this collection is maintained fairly consistently in spite of multiple bands performing. While the music is clearly jazz, it almost does not sound so. The rhythms, instrument combinations, and tune choices come off very fresh and new. This is not an all-star blowing sessions. All of the music is finely arranged and performed. This thoroughly enjoyable disc should be a welcome addition to even the fussiest jazz enthusiast.
Track Listing: (Disc 1) Sunset Eyes; The Last Train To Overbrook; Cloud Burst; Blue Monk; Lovin' It, Lovin' It; When The Lights Are Low; River's Invitation; It Never Entered My Mind; Shirley's Soliloquy. (Total Time: 45:26). (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. (Total Time: 46:13)
Personnel: Kenny Burrell, Larry Koonse: guitars; Teddy Edwards, James Moody: Tenor Saxophone; Louis Taylor: Baritone Saxophone; Oscar Brashear: Trumpet; Pete Jolly; Shirley Horn, Cedar Walton: Piano; Ray Brown, Luther Hughes, Al McKibbon: Bass; Roy McCurdy, Stix Hooper; Steve Williams, Paul Kreibich, Willie Jones: Drums; Jon Hendricks, Shirley Horn, Ernie Andrews: Vocals.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.