Full performer name: Al Grey & Jimmy Forrest Quintet.
Al Grey & Jimmy Forrest Quintet: Al Grey (trombone); Jimmy Forrest (tenor saxophone); Shirley Scott (piano); John Duke (bass); Bobby Durham (drums).
The Al Grey-Jimmy Forrest Quintet lived a short, somewhat cantankerous, though fruitful life, leaving a small legacy of some outstanding small group jazz. This recording captures the group live at the Chicago club, Rick's, in the late 1970s. Thankfully, the quality of the recording is superb, and the selections from the three-night stand fairly represent the sound and repertoire of the group. Both veterans, Grey and Forrest have rarely been as well documented on disc. The tunes are ones that both of these war horses could play in their sleep, yet there is a visceral excitement to it all that makes this recording so entertaining. Both horns stretch at length, and swing effortlessly. Al Grey sits out on "Body and Soul," while Forrest gives an emotionally charged classic rendition of the tune. The signature title piece, "Night Train," is performed with the sort of gritty down-home punch to be expected from these masters. The trombonist goes all out with his plunger on "Things What Ain't They Used to be," while "Milestones" (the Miles Davis tune) is played with a slight Latin beat. The rhythm section, especially including the talented Shirley Scott, swings solidly. Grey and Forrest have seldom sounded better, and this recording captures them at peak performance. ~ Steven Loewy