Detroit jazz bassist Marion Hayden is best-known nationally as a charter member of the group Straight Ahead that recorded for Atlantic Records alongside violinist Regina Carter. In addition, she has been a first-call player on a local and regional level for three decades, and this debut recording as a leader showcases her modern mainstream jazz style with a band of established stars and two of her fellow Motown residents. Hayden is a joyous performer who swings like mad, and can melodically lead the way, as heard on several of these selections culled from different post-bop sources. The front line is awesome, with Detroit reedman Wendell Harrison joining formidable trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater and peerless trombonist Steve Turre, while the rhythm section with Hayden, pianist Kirk Lightsey, and drummer Ralph Peterson,Jr. is just as potent. Bridgewater in particular is stellar on this date, wailing on a short or an extended, one-key-higher version of Lee Morgan's "Mr. Kenyatta," or using his muted trumpet effectively on Charlie Parker's "Perhaps." Hayden pays tribute to her longtime friend and collaborator Kenn Cox on "Buhaina," an Art Blakey tribute with some rich horn charts alongside stirring rhythm changes moving from stop-start accents to shuffle beat and modalities in the main. Hayden's lone original composition, "Sumpin' Like Dat," is one of several tunes where her plucked or bowed bass leads out, in this case on a swinging neo-bop foundation that has Native American inferences. Detroit vibraphonist Rob Pipho guests on the more contemporary beat via Ahmad Jamal of Kamau Kenyatta's "Destiny" swaying in a Southern breeze. There's no filler or left-over material here, everything is rock-solid, the musicianship inspiring, and Hayden proves her mettle in good company on this fine effort, heartily recommended to all jazz fans.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos