Reference: FSRCD 902
Bar code: 8427328609029
After four years of living and working in Munich, Germany, in 1968 tenor saxophonist Don Menza decided to come back to the U.S. He settled in Los Angeles and found steady work, in studio and live performances: the quality of his musicianship was not overlooked by his peers and by the audiences.
In 1979 Don put together this sextet, with Chuck Findley, trumpet, Bill Reichenbach, trombone, Frank Strazzeri, piano, Frank De La Rosa, bass and John Dentz, drums. “Starting this group was a long slow process,” he said. “It’s hard keeping cats together because when they’re great players like these guys are, they’ve got other obligations.” Outstandingly powerful, dynamic in every sense, the music in “Horn of Plenty” highlights the direction Don took from 1976, choosing to play with a small jazz group after several years of big band work. Here you may witness Don Menza’s immaculate technique, the sheer power and drive of his playing, astonishing chops and fountain of ideas.
This release includes five unreleased tracks from the same session, three of them Menza’s originals performed by the sextet, and two standards in quartet featuring Findley and Reichenbach—no doubt, an outstanding addition to this great set.
01. Tonawanda Fats (Don Menza) 7:45
02. In a Sentimental Mood (Duke Ellington) 6:20
03. Intrigue (Don Menza) 7:32
04. As Is (Frank Strazzeri) 7:38
05. Something Old, Something Blue (Mark Levine) 7:37
06. Take the “A” Train (Billy Strayhorn) 6:38
07. Cinderella’s Waltz (Don Menza) 6:22 *
08. I Should Care (Stordahl-Weston-Cahn) 6:02 *
09. Blues for Bird (Burnin’) (Don Menza) 5:43 *
10. The Very Thought of You (Ray Noble) 8:39 *
11. Sambandrea Swing (Don Menza) 9:19 *
(*) Previously unreleased bonus tracks
Tracks #1-6, originally issued in the Discwasher album “Horn of Plenty” (DR005-D)
Chuck Findley, trumpet (out on #2 and 8); Bill Reichenbach, trombone (out on #2 and 10); Don Menza, tenor sax (out on #8 and 10); Frank Strazzeri, piano and Fender Rhodes (#4); Frank De La Rosa, bass; John Dentz, drums.
Recorded at Producer’s Workshop, Hollywood, May 1 and 2, 1979
Recording Engineer: Rick Ruggieri
Original recordings produced by Jeffrey Weber
Executive producer: Dave Richardson
Photography: Aaron Rapoport
Original cover illustration: Roger Huyssen
Produced for CD release by Jordi Pujol
Stereo · 24-Bit Digitally Remastered
About the bonus tracks:
As was the case in recording dates of the pre “CD” era, there was always a time limit for “LPs”… When the date (“Horn O’Plenty” date) was finished, we had much too much music for the LP… The decision to leave out certain tunes was a hard one and we (for the most part) just flipped a coin to choose tunes for the album. There are two other selections which are lost forever (too bad) but I’m really happy to include these unreleased tracks. Once again, I have to give special thanks to my good friend Jordi of Fresh Sound Records for re-releasing “Horn of Plenty”—enjoy.
"Tenorman Don Menza's regular sextet of the late 1970s (which also includes trumpeter Chuck Findley, trombonist Bill Reichenbach, pianist Frank Strazzeri, bassist Frank De La Rosa and drummer John Dentz) is heard in fine form on two Ellington/Strayhorn standards and originals by Menza, pianist Frank Strazzeri and Marc Levin. Menza's ability to write catchy, fresh-sounding boppish lines and his fiery solos are two strong reasons to search for this little-known but superior album."
Scott Yanow -All Music Guide
"I’ve never figured out why Don Menza is never mentioned in the Top Ten list of tenor sax players. He’s got an incredibly meaty tone, had a few great runs with Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Rich, Elvin Fones and Louis Bellson, and has had a respectable solo career. It could be the curse of being associated with Los Angeles, but he’s never disappointed in concert.
This album from 1979 shows a couple things 1) at one time, LA had a thriving jazz scene, as Menza brings together Chuck Findley/tp, Bill Reichenback/tb, Frank Strazzeri/p, Frank De La Rosa/b and John Dentz for a hard hitting collection of standards, originals and variations on jazz pieces. Menza himself sounds voracious as he roars on “In A Sentimental Mood” and the whole team sizzles on the clever groove changes on “Tonawanda Fats.” Strazzeri shows his writing and composing skills on “As Is” while Findley’s brass glows on the bonus tracks “The Very Thought Of You” and “Sambandrea Swing.”The disc includes 5 bonus tracks that were the casualty of the vinyl age, but fill up the space without missing a beat. The music is all inspiring, muscular and macho, just what is all missing in most of today’s limp wrist deliveries."
George W. Harris (October 3, 2016)