JazzTimes - 4/97, p.72
"...enjoyable....Crawford is immersed in his grooves. Pyrotechnical wails are not associated with his recordings, but he ecstatically embraces Freddie Hubbard's 'Little Sunflower.' Consistency of a groove, however, remains his abiding principle..."
Personnel: Hank Crawford (alto saxophone); David Newman (tenor saxophone, flute); Howard Johnson (baritone saxophone); Earl Gardner, Alan Rubin (trumpet); Danny Mixon (piano, organ); Melvin Sparks (guitar); Stanley Banks (bass); Idris Muhammad (drums).
Recorded at Van Gelder Recording Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on April 8 & 29 and May 13, 1996. Includes liner notes by Bob Porter.
Personnel: Hank Crawford (alto saxophone); Melvin Sparks (guitar); David "Fathead" Newman (flute, tenor saxophone); Howard Johnson (baritone saxophone); Alan Rubin, Earl Gardner (trumpet); Danny Mixon (piano, organ); Idris Muhammad (drums).
Liner Note Author: Bob Porter.
Recording information: Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, NJ (04/08/1996-05/01/1996).
Photographer: John Abbott .
Arranger: Hank Crawford.
There's little doubt that alto saxophonist Hank Crawford has been one of most durable and enjoyable performers in soul-jazz. His sweet and saucy sound served employers like Ray Charles reliably, while appealing to listeners who might be curious as to where more commercial players like David Sanborn and Grover Washington, Jr. (Crawford looks a lot like Washington on the back cover) acknowledged no small measure of inspiration. A quintessential section man and soloist himself, here Crawford either leads an organ combo on ballads, does songs inspired by singers, or fronts an occasional nonet with a five-piece horn section, including longtime compatriots David "Fathead" Newman and Howard Johnson. This is an effort that suggests, as Bob Porter refers to in his liner notes, a "summation" of Crawford's entire career. He adds the hats of arranger and conductor to these proceedings, picking various standards, R&B tunes, post-bop numbers, and three originals. For fans or newcomers, this might yield mixed results, but one has to realize how much music Crawford has played over his long and fruitful career. The disco-funk "I Had a Dream," written by Hubert Laws, should not surprise those who knew the saxman from his CTI/Kudu recordings of the '70s. Nor should one think his funky full-horn take of George Benson's soppy pop hit "Breezin'" is an anomaly. Closer to Crawford's great groove home is the contrasting dual sax shuffle with Newman on Bobby Womack's "Don't Start Nuttin', Won't Be Nuttin'," while the original "Midnight Blues" is the hippest of 12-bar jams. The treat of the date is Freddie Hubbard's "Little Sunflower," a relaxed version with pianist Danny Mixon's modal piano … la McCoy Tyner firing up Crawford's strained sax, stepping up to a hot calypso beat. Mixon is the organist on the ballads, which Crawford plays so well. The sobbing sounds of "If It's the Last Thing I Do," sweet and stirring "Mona Lisa," and heartfelt "Everything I Have Is Yours" need no extra horn complement for Crawford to flower fully in unrequited or romantic regalia. Guitarist Melvin Sparks and drummer Idris Muhammad play key roles throughout, easily matching the leader's soul, spirit, and shine. A return to the Milestone label for Crawford, and a clear effort to sell some records, this commercially inclined recording is all right, not his most essential, but likable in many more spots than not. ~ Michael G. Nastos