Ira Sullivan, a key member of the Chicago jazz scene of the 1950's, was equally adept on trumpet and a variety of reeds. On "Horizons," Sullivan recapitulates the last twenty years of jazz and forecasts the next twenty in a program ranging from bebop to pop and contemporary jazz. Trumpet and flugelhorn player Luis Gasca straddles the worlds of jazz and Latin music. On "The Little Giant," Gasca leads a group of jazz all-stars (including Hubert Laws and Herbie Hancock) in performances that combine jazz with strong Latin and Afro-Cuban influences.
2 LPs on 1 CD: Ira Sullivan/HORIZONS (1967)/Luis Gasca/THE LITTLE GIANT (1969).
Personnel includes: Ira Sullivan (soprano & tenor saxophones, trumpet, flugelhorn); Lon Norman (trombone); Dolphe Castellano (piano, electric harpsichord); William Fry (bass); Jose Cigno (drums).
Producers: Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd.
Recorded at Criteria Recording Studios, Miami, Florida. Originally released on Atlantic (1476).
Personnel includes: Luis Gasca (trumpet, flugelhorn); Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone); Hubert Laws, Lew Tabackan (flute); Herbie Hancock, Paul Griffin (piano); Richard Davis (bass); Mongo Santamaria (congas); Bernard Purdie (drums).
Producer: Joel Dorn.
Recorded at Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, New York. Originally re;eased on Atlantic (1527).
Personnel: Ira Sullivan (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, trumpet); Hubert Laws, Lew Tabackin (flute); Lon Norman (baritone saxophone, trombone); Dolphe Castellano, Herbie Hancock (piano); Jos‚ Cigno (drums, timpani); Mickey Roker, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie (drums); Mongo Santamaria (congas); Marty Sheller (cowbells); Steve Barrios (timbales).
Recording information: Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, NY; Criteria Recording Studios, Miami, FL.
Illustrator: Loring Eutemey.
Arranger: Hubert Laws.
Praiseworthy as this double CD is for beefing up the skimpy number of releases available from these two artists, the fact remains that the performances resurrected here are unremarkable. An accomplished saxophonist and trumpet player, Ira Sullivan has generally shunned the spotlight. He is probably best known for his association with trumpeter Red Rodney. Luis Gasca, a journeyman trumpet player who has paid dues with Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson, Lionel Hampton, and Mongo Santamaria, may be most familiar to listeners who've seen his name in the credits of various Santana albums. Ranging from perfunctory bop to tepid free jazz, Sullivan's Horizons from 1967 seldom gels into cohesive performances. The best tracks -- fortunately they are the longer ones -- are in a modal hard bop style. The title track, for instance, resembles one of Wayne Shorter's contributions to the Jazz Messengers. "Norwegian Wood" and Sullivan's own "Nineveh" feature the leader on soprano, working terrain similar to John Coltrane's extended interpolations of "My Favorite Things" and "Chim Chim Cheree." The Beatles' number, however, would have benefited from standard piano in place of the mechanical clunking of Dolphe Castellano's electric harpsichord. The high points of Gasca's The Little Giant from 1969 are Joe Henderson's two tenor solos -- not enough to merit a recommendation, except to Henderson's most obsessive fans. The dominant sounds are physical, Latin vamps that offer little drama or dynamics. Gasca often projects as if he were still in the Kenton band at full throttle, although a trio of inconsequential ballad features provide an outlet for his more reflective side. Despite Henderson's strong solo, the CD's centerpiece, Mongo Santamaria's "Afro-Blue," never manages to catch fire. ~ Jim Todd