It is well-known that tenor saxophonist Bill Barron was highly regarded by fellow musicians and his many students, and underappreciated by the general public. This recording displays all the why's and wherefore's as to his unsung greatness, showcasing his clever compositions and his clear, distinct, definite tenor tone that holds allegiance to no peer or predecessor. Trumpet partner Ted Curson and younger brother Kenny, a pianist, both play on the dates that were originally issued as Modern Windows and The Tenor Stylings of Bill Barron.
The first four cuts comprise "The Modern Windows Suite" with baritone saxophonist Jay Cameron, bassist Eddie Khan, and drummer Pete LaRoca Sims helping. They seg into one another; "Men at Work" is a sweet and sour hard bopper a la Sun Ra with a slowed tempo and Eastern flavor, and merging into "Tone Colors," a swirling, bluesy, swinging line promoing many solos with a young Kenny Barron's chiming chords as the highlight. "Dedication to Wanda" is a slow, pensive ballad with the leader's solo comprising the bulk of the piece, and the straight, no-chaser-needed bopper "Keystone" is portrayed accurately as being Charles Mingus-like in its original unison, with galloping phrases and inventive writing. Bassist Jimmy Garrison really lights the fuse on the seven quintet recordings, where drummer Frankie Dunlop stokes the rhythmic fire. A ballad head and waltz bridge for "Ode to an Earth Girl" utilizes a suspended animation feel from Kenny Barron's piano and the rhythm section for tenor and trumpet solos. You really hear the empathy between the leader and Curson on this, and on "Fox Hunt," as Curson's muted trumpet calls participants to the chase at the outset, outro, and in the middle of a good swinging romp. "Oriental Impressions" uses an attractive modal, two-chord motif to easy swing and back device. "Backlash" is a straight up-and-down easy bopper with the tenor's tone and approach more agitated. "Nebulae," again in a Mingus mode, is a good unison-lined swinger with a march waltz insert, and the tenor that signifies Barron's originality as Curson's trumpet pulls the band along on a "Tea for Two" quote near the coda. This is a rich, fulfilling modern jazz window into the soul of one of the most underappreciated masters of the idiom, and is clearly Bill Barron's best work in his criminally miniscule discography.