Shining a light on the underappreciated jazz-funk idiom that was fiercely popular in the '50s and '60s, saxophonist Bill Evans profiles his amazing talent on ten great songs that comprise Big Fun. The songs also provide interesting vehicles for such creative musicians as Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Ricky Peterson on Hammond B-3 organ, Hiram Bullock on guitar, among others. Special guests Randy Brecker, Robben Ford, Les McCann, Mickey Raphael, and Willie Nelson have found ample material on which to shine -- especially "Catch You When You Fall," which features McCann providing his sly, earthy vocals, and "For What It's Worth," which features Nelson still carrying the message represented in Buffalo Springfield's huge hit and by the political activists of the '60s. Unfortunately the message espoused by "For What It's Worth" is still very relevant in this new millenium. Evans' saxophone work is sensational on "Real Heroes." He expertly captures the personality of the 9-11 American tragedy with a lyrically haunting perspective. His assessment of the importance of music within that emotionally charged time is the most evocative of the ten songs on this program. "Blues for Stanley" is also noteworthy. Evans' original intention was to record the song with the tenor saxophone legend Stanley Turrentine. However, Turrentine passed away before they could record it. Evans replaced the tenor saxophone part intended for Turrentine with Hiram Bullock's splendid guitar work and the resulting paean to the subject is outstanding. Music enthusiasts whose scope includes the jazz-funk idiom with lots of groove and infectious funk should consider Big Fun essential for their collections.
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AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein