Lalo Schifrin turned 75 on June 21, 2007. In anticipation of that milestone, he convened the recording session for this album a little less than three months earlier, on March 30, 2007, intending to return to his first love of acoustic jazz. The sextet making up the pianist/composer's friends here includes saxophonist James Moody, James Morrison on trumpet and trombone, guitarist Dennis Budimir, bass player Brian Bromberg, and Alex Acuna on drums and percussion. It's an accomplished lineup, and Schifrin wrote and arranged material to showcase the players, beginning with the standard "Besame Mucho," on which Morrison's trumpet takes the lion's share of space. Moody's tenor is given greatest attention on "Fast Forward," the first of six Schifrin originals, and Budimir is the star of "Old Friends." The lengthy "Free Parking" begins with Morrison's trombone leading, followed by an extensive bass solo from Bromberg, before Morrison returns on trumpet. "Night Walk" is given over to Moody and Acuna. Of course, the leader himself does not go unheard up to this point, but he begins to assert himself more late in the set, duetting with Bromberg on the head section of "A Tribute to Bud" (that's Bud Powell, of course), and really taking over on the melancholy ballad "Winter Landscapes," which finds the horns laying out. An extended take of "Tin Tin Daeo," which evokes Schifrin's mentor, Dizzy Gillespie, is also performed sans horns, but Moody makes a comeback on Oscar Peterson's "Hymn to Freedom." It's easy to imagine this 63-minute collection forming the basis for a hot set at a small jazz club, and that may be the intention. Schifrin has ranged far and wide since his days of playing piano with Gillespie, but, as he says in Richard Palmer's liner notes, "Once a jazz musician, always a jazz musician."
All Music Guide
Argentine-born Lalo Schifrin has done just about everything in music. He's a pianist, composer and conductor, conducts symphony orchestras, performs at jazz festivals, scores countless film and TV shows, and writes original works for such as the London Philharmonic and the LA Chamber Orchestra. He has frequently explored the interface between classical and jazz in his projects.
For his 75th birthday, Schifrin has gone back to his jazz roots. (He has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Stan Getz, Count Basie, Ell Fitzgerald, among others.) He created six new tracks for this CD, and added three others: the classic Besame Mucho, Gillespie's Tin Tin Daeo, and Hymn to Freedom from Oscar Peterson. Brass player Morrison was part of Schifrin's "Jazz Meets the Symphony" projects, and was brought back for this session. James Moody is a longtime jazz master; his solo on Night Walk is passionate. Dennis Budimir is a first-call session guitarist in LA; he was named for "Consistently Outstanding Performance as a Guitarist" for four years in a row by NARAS. And don't forget Lalo's swinging solos on many of the tracks. The imaginative instrumentation and turns of phrase of Schifrin's original tunes are reflected in his arrangements of the three tunes from other sources. Even the overly-familiar opening Besame Mucho sounds fresh and swinging. Happy Birthday Lalo!