Reference: FSRCD 647
Bar code: 8427328606479
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The two albums on this CD were the first John Handy recorded as a leader. This young alto saxophonist he also plays tenor on the first album -from Texas had gained exposure and experience working with Charles Mingus and Randy Weston in 1959. They taught me self-confidence, he said, and these recordings are full of it.
His flawlessly controlled playing is strong and inventively contemporary without succumbing to the tyranny of Bird. For his well-received leader debut, In the Vernacular, he shared the front line with the brilliant trumpeter Richard Williams supported by a near-perfect rhythm section with pianist Roland Hanna.
On the second album, No Coast Jazz, Handy is the consistent focal point of a quartet in which, like pianist Don Friedman, he uses a melodic, gentle style, building a singing, emotional quality saved from sentimentality by the cutting edge of his tone - at times he even recalls a more temperate Ornette Coleman as he slashes his way through piercingly angular passages.
Both albums stand as markers of a great, singular and stimulating jazz talent.
-In the Vernacular
"Altoist John Handy's debut as a leader (which was originally part of the two-LP set of the same name) was recorded when he was still a member of Charles Mingus' group. Teamed with trumpeter Richard Williams, pianist Roland Hanna, bassist George Tucker and drummer Roy Haynes. Handy (who doubles on tenor) shows the influence of John Coltrane in spots and also the fury and heat of playing with Mingus. He performs six originals (the best-known is "Dance to the Lady"), "I'll Close My Eyes," and a lyrical rendition of "I'll Never Smile Again." Excellent advanced hard bop music."
-No Coast Jazz
"The second of altoist John Handy's three Roulette albums finds Handy performing six originals with a quartet also including pianist Don Friedman, bassist Bill Lee and drummer Lex Humphries. The altoist already had a pretty original sound (his former employer Charles Mingus would certainly not let him get away with copying Charlie Parker), and although open to the influence of John Coltrane, Handy was getting quite distinctive. The inside/outside music (advanced hard bop that sometimes hints at the avant-garde) still sounds quite fresh."
Both by Scott Yanow -All Music Guide