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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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The Journey

Capri 74136-2



1. The Decathexis from Youth (for Cole)

2. Elena

3. Spring is Here

4. Manhattan Nocturne

5. Au Privave

6. I Should Care

7. The Journey

8. Tami’s Tune

9. Bud Like

Charles McPherson – Alto sax

Keith Oxman – Tenor sax

Chip Stephens – Piano

Ken Walker – Bass

Todd Reid - Drums

Wow! I don’t often respond to record albums with such an enthusiastic shout, but that was my reaction when hearing the opening of Charles McPherson’s new album. It had an irresistible forward motion that took this listener along with it, even if I don’t know what the track title means.

This album was recorded in Spring 2014, and McPherson was born in 1939, so playing as energetic as this is commendable in a pensioner. In fact the whole quintet plays with the same vigour, pushing the beat along forcefully. Spring is Here is a good example – a tune frequently played slowly but here performed with no holds barred. It is no surprise to know that Charles played for Charlie Mingus between 1960 and 1972. Yet the group can also play tenderly, as they show in I Should Care, where Charles McPherson’s alto tells a sad story.

But they are essentially a bebop ensemble, as is clear from Charlie Parker’s Au Privave and McPherson’s own originals The Journey and Bud Like. The influence of Parker is clear in these numbers, just as Bud Powell’s influence is evident in the playing of Chip Stephens, sticking primarily to the top end of the piano. Keith Oxman acts as both competitor and colleague, delivering some equally boppish solos and harmonizing solidly with McPherson. He is featured on his own composition Tami’s Tune with a long, boiling solo. Ken Walker contributes valuable bass solos to this tune and Manhattan Nocturne, while drummer Todd Reid is the catalyst for much of the session’s bite.

Charles McPherson has worked with a wide variety of leaders – from Jay McShann to Wynton Marsalis, from Lionel Hampton to Randy Brecker. This long apprenticeship seems to have established a relaxed maturity in him – both as player and composer.

Tony Augarde

See also review by Steve Arloff

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