Richard Simon has long been known as a reliable sideman, a bop-based bassist whose accompaniment and short solos are an asset to every session he is on. Groove Therapy is his first effort as a leader and, by varying instrumentation and moods, Simon has put together a successful and continually interesting set. The music is generally quiet and a bit easy-listening, but he often swings hard. Simon utilizes five different pianists (Gerald Wiggins, Marty Harris, Ronnell Bright, Art Hillery, and Howlett Smith) along with either Sherman Ferguson or Johnny Kirkwood on drums during the 11 selections. Five of the first seven numbers also have altoist Gabe Baltazar and Buddy Collette (on flute and alto), while the final four numbers feature guitarist Al Viola (in excellent form) as a lead voice. The repertoire includes two of Simon's basic originals, plus songs from Bright, Wiggins ("Sonar"), Hillery, Smith, Red Callender (to whom the album is dedicated), Buddy Collette, and Gabe Baltazar. Baltazar's "Bop Suey," which has a familiar excerpt from a different bop standard every two bars in its melody (16 per chorus), is amusing although Simon has the habit of occasionally hinting at an excess of songs in his solos; his bowed chorus on "Just Another Day for Love" includes at least eight quotes. That minor reservation aside, this valuable CD puts the spotlight not only on the leader, but on several L.A. fixtures who tend to be taken for granted. Well worth picking up.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow