At age 72, Cecil Payne makes a recorded comeback with this release. He sounds in fine form, playing with dexterity, clarity, and depth on baritone sax, and brings out his flute for two of the eight cuts. Six of the eight selections are his compositions. A mixed-generation band has old hands John Ore (bass) and the great Harold Mabern (piano) teamed with younger men Eric Alexander (tenor sax) and Joe Farnsworth (drums). Guest trumpeters Freddie Hubbard or Dr. Odies Williams III get cameos. As expected, this is a hard bop date, reflective of Payne's history with Dizzy Gillespie, J.J. Johnson, Tadd Dameron, and James Moody.
The new box contains no fewer than three different Williams recordings of that most popular of all guitar works, Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez – from 1964 with the Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, from 1974 with Barenboim and the English Chamber Orchestra, and from 1983 with Frémaux and the Philharmonia Orchestra – plus a performance of its much-loved Adagio in Williams’s celebrated 1993 “Seville Concert”.
In Memoriam. Sad news as Geri Allen has passed away. RIP Geri Allen. Trio 3 played five evenings together with pianist Geri Allen in the New York jazz club Birdland, paying homage to the jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams. They presented fresh and individualistic interpretations of some of the most beautiful pieces of the "First Lady of Jazz". Intakt has recorded these evenings.
Payne's Window offers further testament to unsung hero Cecil Payne's prowess on the baritone saxophone. Fronting a delightfully swinging sextet that includes pianist Harold Mabern and tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, Payne delivers a wonderful mixed bag of originals and standards. Window boasts a nonchalant attitude that allows the music to swing effortlessly. On Payne's humorous "James," Mabern improvises on what seems to be "Mary Had a Little Lamb" as Payne, Alexander, and trombonist Steve Davis punch in with swaggering riffs. Payne's impeccable rhythms are still intact, as on the Latin-tinged "Spiritus Parkus" and "Southside Samba," while tunes like "Lover Man" and "That's It Blues" are imbued with bluesy mellowness. Payne's Window is a no-frills record that rewards with each listening.
It would be an understatement to say that there was a fair amount of variety on this set. Drummer Tony Williams is heard in two duets with keyboardist Jan Hammer, with a quartet also including keyboardist Herbie Hancock, Tom Scott (who unfortunately sticks to lyricon) and bassist Stanley Clarke, and he welcomes rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose, keyboardist Brian Auger, guitarist George Benson, Hammer and tenorman Michael Brecker on other tracks. Much of this music is closer to R&B than to jazz, although there are many strong moments. But the most interesting selection is certainly "Morgan's Motion" which matches Williams with pianist Cecil Taylor in a powerful (and completely atonal) collaboration.