JazzTimes (p.72) - "Ernie Watts doesn't attempt Sanders' searing saxophone shrieks, but he taps into the rough tone that Pharoah uses during his calmer moments."
Personnel: Babatunde Lea (drums, percussion); Dwight Trible (vocals); Ernie Watts (tenor saxophone); Patrice Rushen (piano).
Audio Mixer: John Greenham.
Recording information: Yoshi's, Oakland, CA (10/14/2008-10/15/2008).
Author: Babatunde Lea.
Editor: Claudia Robinson.
Vocalist Leon Thomas was a close partner to saxophonist Pharoah Sanders in the late '60s and early '70s. He blended blues, R&B, gospel, soul, jazz, and yodeling (!) into a cohesive and utterly recognizable style that meshed quite well with jazz's turn toward ecstatic spiritualism in the wake of John Coltrane's and Albert Ayler's premature deaths. On this double live disc, Bay Area drummer and percussionist Babatunde Lea, who backed Thomas in the early '70s, is joined by saxophonist Ernie Watts (of Charlie Haden's Quartet West), keyboardist/vocalist Patrice Rushen, and vocalist Dwight Trible to pay tribute to his former boss. The arrangements have the same churning, R&B-meets-jazz groove that the best of Thomas' and Sanders' work from the late '60s had, Watts' saxophone in particular attaining ecstatic heights without devolving into raucous shrieks. The deep love Babatunde Lea felt, and obviously still feels, for Leon Thomas and the music they made together comes through on every note of this disc.