When one thinks of New Orleans jazz, it is of Dixieland, but in the early '60s there were several talented local modern jazzmen (many of whom eventually went into teaching) who were open to the influence of the more advanced New York jazz. Pianist Ellis Marsalis (the future father of the Marsalis clan but at the time fairly unknown) heads a quartet on this CD that also includes the forgotten but excellent tenor saxophonist Nat Perrilliat (who was most influenced by John Coltrane of a few years earlier), bassist Marshall Smith and drummer James Black. An LP from the AFO (All for One) label (The Monkey Puzzle) has been reissued in full on this CD along with three numbers later released on a sampler and a previously unissued version of "Night in Tunisia." Black and Marsalis contributed seven of the 11 songs; the quartet also performs Perrilliat's "Little Joy" and three jazz standards. The music falls into the advanced hard bop (as opposed to avant-garde) area with plenty of hard-swinging performances.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow