Reference: FSRCD 704
Bar code: 8427328607049
Theres no Count Basie here, but his spirit pervades these relaxed, swinging sessions, not least because five Basie alumni Frank Foster, Frank Wess, Benny Powell, Henry Coker and Eddie Jones splendidly lead the way. Aided by guitarist Kenny Burrell and drummer Kenny Clarke, with arrangements that offer plenty of space for soloists, this is a typically accomplished, unpretentious Basie-type small group blowing session. The piano-less rhythm section is buttressed by the solid bass of Eddie Jones and a cooking Kenny Clarke, while Kenny Burrell proves a fine comper and a down-home blues player.
-North, South, East... Wess
"This easygoing swing date is essentially a small group drawn from the Count Basie band of the day. The two tenors, Wess and Frank Foster, and two trombones, Bennie Powell and Henry Coker, all from the Count's band, keep the sound comfortably cruising near the middle register.
Kenny Burrell is on the date as the only chordal instrument, contributing flowing chord selections when comping and clean, tasty choruses for his solos. Savoy house drummer Kenny Clarke and Basie bassist Eddie Jones complete rhythm section. On tenor, Wess and Foster are eminently capable [...] The best moments come when Wess switches to flute, the instrument on which he does have a distinctive and appealing musical personality.
The other high points are Burrell's, both as accompanist and in his brief solo spots. Both he and the leader, however, can be heard together to better effect on other Savoy dates, notably Wess' bright and airy chamber jazz date Opus in Swing, and the Frank Foster-led No Count, which features the same group as on North, South, East...Wess."
"No Freddie Green either, but that's okay; the four horns carved out from the Count Basie band for this Frank Foster-led date get along just fine with drummer Kenny Clarke, bassist Eddie Jones, and guitarist Kenny Burrell. The set is a companion to Frank Wess' North, South, East...Wess, recorded by the same players at the same sessions. No Count, however, stays closer to Kansas City swing than the Wess release, which attempted, not altogether successfully, to update the sound with some nods to hard bop. Foster's charts provide for lots of interplay and counterpoint between the two trombones and two tenors. This gets around the potential for the similar ranges of the horns to bog down in tonal homogeneity. The natural, yet sophisticated, blues-based swing players spin out long, masterful lines. Trombonists Henry Coker and Bennie Powell are most effective in supporting roles. The rhythm section is what makes this date, though. The poised Clarke balances the blues feeling of the arrangements with a cool bopping, cymbal-driven pulse. Jones, too, is effective, even if he is a bit far down in the mix. Then there's Burrell, who pretty much steals the show, covering for the absent Count and Basie guitarist Freddie Green with some of the finest rhythm work to be heard anywhere. À la the Count, he also takes the occasional brief but impressive solo."
Both by Jim Todd (All Music Guide)
"Count Basie, arguably, was playing soul-jazz long before that term came into vogue. Gritty, earthy and blues-minded, Basies band had a major influence on the tenor sax honkers of the 40s as well as the funky soul-jazz organ combos of the late 50s-60s. And Basies sidemen often carried a soulful aesthetic with them even when the Count wasnt around. That is alive and well on this reissue, which unites two classic Frank Wess/Frank Foster encounters from 1956 (North, South, EastWess and No Count) on a single 73-minute CD, the former released under Wess name while the latter was a Foster album. The septet lineup is the same on both: tenor saxophonist/flutist Wess and tenor saxophonist Foster are joined by trombonists Benny Powell and Henry Coker, guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist Eddie Jones and drummer Kenny Clarke.
Except for Burrell and Clarke, everyone in this septet had been a member of Basies orchestra. And his influence is impossible to miss on infectious grooves such as Wess Hard Sock Dance, Fosters Apron Strings, Cokers Lazy Sal and producer Ozzie Cadenas Whatd Ya Say? (a slow, relaxed blues). Much of the material was composed by Foster (including Stop Gap, Dill Pickles, Alternative and the gospel-ish Salvation), although the septet also turns its attention to Leroy Andersons Serenata and the Rodgers-Hart standard Dancing on the Ceiling. It should be noted that the absence of a piano on these two albums is no coincidence; the septets participants didnt want to have a Basie-ish sound without actually having Basie on piano.
Both albums combine Kansas City swing (Wess and Fosters arrangements) with hardbop (Burrells guitar solos and Clarkes drumming). These inspired Wess/Foster encounters continue to hold up admirably well after 56 years."
-The New York City Jazz Record (January, 2013)