Personnel: Don Sickler (trumpet); Jimmy Heath (tenor saxophone); Cedar Walton (piano); Billy Higgins (drums).
Liner Note Authors: Mark Feldman ; Michael Cuscuna.
Recording information: Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, NJ (11/12/1983).
Photographer: Raymond Ross.
During a ten-year period before illness caused his premature retirement, trumpeter Kenny Dorham was a prolific recording artist and composer, though he has been unjustly overlooked for his songs. Trumpeter Don Sickler was asked to do a songbook of Dorham's music and looked over his entire output before selecting seven works; it was also Sickler's debut album as a leader. Accompanied by a formidable group of musicians, including tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath (also a superb arranger, though his contributions aren't heard on this date), pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Billy Higgins, Sickler concentrates primarily on less frequently performed songs. The joyful spirit of "Spring Cannon" contrasts with the sauntering, darker "Escapade." But the most interesting track is the obscure, richly textured ballad "Blue Lament," recorded previously by Dorham for Blue Note but never issued. This fine tribute is easily recommended to hard bop fans. ~ Ken Dryden