Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 05/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Transition label, located in Boston, had a brief but significant life as a small label recording some of the best but relatively unheralded "hard bop" players of the 1950's in musical contexts that were more open and relaxed than those provided by Art Blakey or Horace Silver. The audio quality was excellent, though the packaging--from the album covers to the record labels--was noticeably inferior. Nonetheless, this album captures not only some of the most creative work by Donald Byrd on record but is also perhaps the best musical recording of the promising trumpet player, Joe Gordon. Gordon, whose life was cut short by a warehouse fire, spurs Byrd to some inspired, high-energy solo work--in fact, Gordon, whose indebtedness to Clifford Brown is more than a little apparent, puts on the better show to this listener's ears. Add to the album's attractions, the always lyrical Hank Mobley, and you have the makings of exceptional players recorded under ideal circumstances. But there's one more indispensable ingredient: the bass of Doug Watkins. For some reason, his wonderful, blues-driven sound was done justice to only by the Transition label, and on this session he demonstrates why many listeners once considered him the equal of Paul Chambers."