This reissue (which surprisingly has not yet come out in complete fashion on CD) was originally recorded for the Jazzland label. Tenor saxophonist Harold Land leads an all-star sextet that includes guitarist Wes Montgomery, trumpeter Joe Gordon, pianist Barry Harris, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Louis Hayes. Together, they perform three of Land's originals, "Don't Explain," and Charlie Parker's "Klactoveedsedstene," and an early version of Montgomery's "West Coast Blues." The music is as well-played and swinging as one would expect from this superior bop group.
- Scott Yanow (All Music Guide)
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About this new Jazzland recording- This could be billed as one of those "East meets West" affairs, since tenorman Harold Land, trumpeter Joe Gordon, and guitarist Wes Montgomery are all Californians these days, while their brilliant and thoroughly "soulful" rhythm section is East Coast-based. But such an emphasis would be less than fair to the album. For, while so many geographically-mixed "meetings" run into trouble by attempting to mix basically incompatible approaches to jazz, this effort combines six men who decidedly belong with each other musically and celebrates their having a rare opportunity to wail together.
Harold Land is clearly one of today's most formidable and fluent tenors. Born in Houston, Texas in December of 1928, but raised in California (San Diego and Los Angeles), he nevertheless developed a notable "hard" sound that led Max Roach and Clifford Brown to add him to their group on first hearing him in '54. But he soon gave up the road life to resettle with his family in L.A. There his efforts have tended to be somewhat submerged in the flood of softer sounds more generally accepted on the West Coast, a state of affairs that a really cooking LP such as this one might just possibly help to remedy. Land's equally strong composing talents are also on display here in the surging "Terrain" and "Compulsion," and the richly melodic line entitled "Ursula" that leads off the album. (The title tune is a Wes Montgomery original; "Klactoveedsedstene" is a hard-charging and rarely performed Charlie Parker number; and finally there is Land's particularly rich and moody treatment of Billie Holiday's "Don't Explain.")
Montgomery hails from Indianapolis, but has recently relocated in San Francisco. A phenomenal, self-taught guitarist whose incredible solo choruses played in octaves are among the accomplishments that have brought him wild critical acclaim (Ralph Gleason has called him "the best thing to happen to the guitar since Charlie Christian!"), he had worked with Land during a most successful stay in San Francisco's Jazz Workshop late in 1959. Joe Gordon, who combines modern conception with a big tone reminiscent of Roy Eldridge, was born in Boston. He was featured with Dizzy Gillespie's big band, but has also been a Los Angeles citizen for the past several years, working with Shelly Manne-and jamming with such as Land when he feels a need for hard-blowing freedom.
The wonderfully well-knit combination of Barry Harris, Louis Hayes (both from Detroit), and Sam Jones (of Florida) should be instantly recognizable as also being Cannonball Adderley's rhythm section. The presence of that remarkable band out West, for a Jazz Workshop booking, made possible this particular recording mixture, with the hard-driving Western "team" blending with what is certainly one of the finest rhythm units in any part of the country - and with the impeccable Mr. Jones and the lyri- cal Mr. Harris also contributing some superb solo efforts.
- Orrin Keepnews