Don Sebesky

Giant Box

  • AllMusic Rating
    9
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

This may have been Creed Taylor's most ambitious single project. As the cash was flowing in the wake of Deodato's massive "2001" hit, Taylor rounded up almost every headliner on CTI's roster, had house-arranger Don Sebesky write big-thinking charts for them, and gave Sebesky top billing and two LPs of space. Two decades later, the lineup reads almost like a gathering of the gods -- Freddie Hubbard, Randy Brecker, Hubert Laws, Paul Desmond, Joe Farrell, Grover Washington, Jr., Milt Jackson, George Benson, Bob James, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Billy Cobham, Airto Moreira, Jackie Cain and Roy Kral, all on one album. Thankfully the musicmaking lives up to the billing. Everything that gave CTI its distinctive sound and identity is here -- the classical adaptations (Stravinsky's Firebird is merged shotgun-style with John McLaughlin's "Birds of Fire"), elaborate orchestrations and structuring, pop-tune covers, plenty of room for the star soloists to stretch out in a combo format. The stars all come out to shine; Desmond sounds especially inspired in a shimmering "Song to a Seagull" and Hubbard and Washington burn furiously on the appropriately-titled "Free as a Bird." And Sebesky was given a flyer to experiment; hence the wild extended swarms of freeform strings on "Firebird" and Laws' fancy Echoplexed winds on "Fly." The two original LPs were gathered in a classical-style box, complete with a booklet of photos and an interview with Sebesky, but the austere CBS CD reissue condenses everything onto a generic single disc. However less ostentatious, Giant Box still ranks as a sensational coup and a reminder of how potent CTI was at its peak.

blue highlight denotes track pick