Reference: SA 025
Bar code: 8427328450256
Reviewer rating: FIVE-STAR
"Solàs bright combo begins with just the sort of hard bop opus Blakey would most likely be playing if he were still around. Its all there brisk, brassy trumpet, Hubbard style, the sort of flowing piano solos any one of a dozen top pianists used to provide and all wrapped up in all-embracing polyrhythmic drumming. In almost complete contrast the next piece is a warm, breathy version of Strayhorns Lush Life with sumptuous tenor sax and nourishing piano chords - overall a very tasty ballad reading. Impulsive is another well-structured slow selection, this time a seldom-heard blues by Johnny Hodges which the leader digs into with vigour and invention. Rapid Shave is a fast burner that features stomping tenor sax and a workout for drummer Derouard.
Baker is only heard on three tracks as trumpeter but on Feel So Crazy he turns up as vocalist, adding a crisp croon to the slow ballad which he also wrote. Nat Adderleys stirring Wabash receives a spirited soul-blues interpretation with Baker back on trumpet and growling away happily. All the tracks here are played with enthusiasm and the variety on offer makes for a very satisfying programme of contemporary bop. By the time we get to Just An Excuse To Play the Blues everybody is relaxed and ready to stretch out over eight and a half minutes of slow, low-down dirty blues. In fact nobody here needs any excuse to do what comes naturally and this set is a rare example of a jazz CD living up fully to its title."
-Derek Ansell (Jazz Journal, July 2015)