It is my favorite album of the 1990s (maybe the 80s too)
Frank S. Cohen | Leominster, MA | 06/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Exquisite; a masterpiece. Wynton has done something great for jazz here. Unfortunately, nostalgia for and festishization of the legends of the '20s-60s will probably not permit it to be placed among the greatest of the great jazz works but it should be. Also unfortunately, the politicization of his image (due to him, his allies, and his critics) will affect one's impression of the album.Originality, vitality, innovation perfectly enmeshed with an awareness of jazz's past. Too bad that his other albums can't match this one in terms of combining momementum, passinon, creativity, theme and structure. If you are going to get one album by Marsalis, then get this one. It is a mindblowing experience. I enjoy other albums by Wynton but I can't characterize any of them as being "mindblowing" like I can this one."
Wynton's finest work to date
Frank S. Cohen | 01/05/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is Wynton's best ensemble writing for the septet. The band, featuring both Eric Reed and Marcus Roberts on piano (on different tracks) is the classic septet lineup, and you can tell Marsalis was inspired by working with this band.The first disc is tremendous, but acts only as a prelude to disc two, which exceeds all expectations. "The Legend of Buddy Bolden" is powerful storytelling from Wynton's horn. "Swingdown, Swingtown" oozes bluesy elegance, getting you ready for "Highrise Riff," an absolutely stunning, barn-burning tune, with extremely intricate horn lines that never waver at an extremely hot tempo. The rhythm section on this track (Reed, Reginald Veal, and Herlin Riley) does yeoman's work here. "Modern Vistas (As Far As the Eye Can See)" is a completely original musical vision of urban life, a positive statement of the possibilities of jazz realized.Last, but not least, is "Curtain Call," with Marcus Roberts' churchy piano rolling through this bayou thank you. You leave this recording satisfied that jazz is in good hands and wanting more from this band and Marsalis's pen and horn."