Personnel: Joe Morello (drums, percussion); Bob Brookmeyer (vocals, trombone); Phil Woods (alto saxophone); Clark Terry, Doc Severinsen, Ernie Royal, Nick Travis (trumpet); Dick Hixson, Urbie Green (trombone); Harvey E. Phillips (tuba); John Bunch (piano); Gary Burton (vibraphone).
Recording information: 06/06/1961-06/15/1961.
Arrangers: Manny Albam; Phil Woods.
Awe-inspiring, stirring, soothing. These words can best describe the adventurous music led by legendary drummer Joe Morello. Here in this recording are tracks breathing alive with flair and resonance. The songs of spontaneous beauty, some speedy and some relaxed, seem to soar off the spinning black record. Others, such as the romantic, sullen "Every Time We Say Goodbye," seem to possess a dreamy, ethereal quality, delighting young couples toward a romantic mood. In the song "Just in Time," Morello sets the pace with a dashing, daring timbre, giving Phil Woods the freedom to explore melodically creative territory on his lush-sounding alto sax. Woods has been regarded as one of the finest sax soloists in the post-bop era. Gary Burton also receives creative expression to expand the record's musical variety in the use of a merry-go-round-like vibraphone. "Every limit in jazz and popular music has been stretched and broken with the passing years. Technical skills have been sharpened; musicians have turned what was once dazzling virtuosity into the professional norm." These are the written words of music critic George Avakian, who sincerely expresses the fact that jazz as an art has evolved to enter new heights, a startling yet fascinating new frontier in its creative direction. Thanks are due to Morello, who toured with his musical compatriot Dave Brubeck and his quartet, playing to well-received crowds largely in the '60s. Morello, the percussionist that he is, gave the jazz and musical world new ground to explore, concerning the field of timbre and percussive measures. He improvs in everything, including 6/4, 3/4, and 5/4, in this collection of songs. Though present in the back of the group, his leadership provides tremendous drive and sweeping force, eagerly inspiring Woods and Burton to reach and express their musical senses. Gene Cherco adds the baritone flavor on his steady marching walking bass, while John Bunch displays sweeping melody notes sitting down at the piano. This record is compelling and free-spirited, giving listeners a delightful picture of some of the best in '60s jazz. ~ Shawn M. Haney