- Released: July 27, 1999
- Label: Highnote
- 2.Sister Sadie
- 3.Killer Joe
- 4.Seven Steps To Heaven
- 5.Will You Love Me Tomorrow
- 6.Five Blind Mice
- 7.Seven Of Nine
- 8.Stella By Starlight
Personnel: Charles Earland (Hammond B-3 organ); Eric Alexander (tenor saxophone); Jim Rotondi (trumpet); Melvin Sparks (guitar); Bobby Durham (drums); Gary Fritz (percussion).
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on May 7, 1997. Includes liner notes by David Jaye.
Personnel: Melvin Sparks (guitar); Gary Fritz (percussion).
Recording information: Van Gelder Recording Studio, En (05/07/1997).
Organist Earland is known far and wide as one of the more inventive, awe-inspiring, soul-sending practitioners of the B-3. On this set, he still sounds like the man to beat, but in many instances he instead allows his bandmates to shine. Those mates include younger firebrands (trumpeter Jim Rotundi and saxophonist Eric Alexander), as well as longtime sidemen (guitarist Melvin Sparks and drummer Bobby Durham), helped by percussionist Gary Fritz. Of course, when Earland wants to burn, he can, and does on many occasions. He recapitulates a piece from Front Burner which was titled "Mom & Dad," but is re-named "Seven of Nine." It's a modal cooker in 10/8 that is even more relentless than the original with a reworked head for the horns. Earland leads the way on Carole King's half-speed "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," but the trumpet and tenor, separately or together, inspire the charge on other cuts; Rotundi quite naturally on "Seven Steps to Heaven," "Milestones," and "Stella By Starlight." Alexander is really hitting his stride, getting fluttery and animated on "Seven Steps" and "Seven of Nine." And Sparks, who is woefully underdocumented these days, proves why he is still one of the all-time greats. His shimmering chords on "Milestones" and fleet single lines in the middle of "Seven Steps" provide plenty of evidence for this contention. At first you think this is a head-solo-tail fest, with the first four cuts running true to predictable form. But then Earland steps forward, turns up the heat, and things cook along nicely until the end. This is one of Earland's better efforts in the last ten years of his life, consistent from start to finish. The burner is in the house, and mightier than ever. ~ Michael G. Nastos