Personnel: James Spaulding (flute, bass flute, piccolo, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Avery Brooks (vocals); Cedar Walton (piano); Steve Nelson (vibraphone, vibraharp); Billy Higgins (drums); James Mtume (congas); Mtume (percussion).
Liner Note Author: Alun Morgan.
Recording information: Blank Studios, New York City (12/01/1976-12/02/1976); Blank Studios, New York City (12/01/1976/12/02/1976).
Photographer: Robert Johnson, Jr.
Despite being a top altoist and flutist since at least the mid-'60s, when he played with Freddie Hubbard's band, James Spaulding did not get his recording debut as a leader until this 1976 LP. Spaulding, on various flutes, piccolo, soprano and alto, performs eight songs associated with Duke Ellington, including "Take the 'A' Train" (a Billy Strayhorn composition mistakenly co-credited in the liners to Duke), "Come Sunday," an impressive flute showcase on "Sophisticated Lady" and "It Don't Mean a Thing." Spaulding is joined by pianist Cedar Walton, a young Steve Nelson on vibes, bassist Sam Jones, drummer Billy Higgins and percussionist Mtume. The most unusual aspect of this set is that Avery Brooks (who has a deep baritone that Ellington might have liked) sings four of the eight songs. A sincere tribute. ~ Scott Yanow