The late Detroit drummer Roy Brooks played with a stellar array of bandleaders during his long tumultuous career. His talent graced dozens of recordings by everyone from Yusef Lateef and Chet Baker to Dexter Gordon, Red Garland, Don Cherry, Abdullah Ibrahim, Blue Mitchell, Charles Mingus, Marcus Belgrave, Max Roach, Shirley Scott, Stanley Turrentine, Hilton Ruiz, Sonny Stitt, Stanley Turrentine, and perhaps most importantly, Horace Silver on the seminal dates Song for My Father (celebrated by many as the first "soul jazz" album) and Horace-Scope.

Aside from his reputation as a briliant session drummer and a rock-solid performer in live settings, Brooks also led a number of dates, though they are relatively few. Most have been out of print for years (though the Japanese Baystate label has just reissued his Live at Town Hall outing from 1974), including his greatest single moment as a leader, 1970's Muse album, The Free Slave.

The album offers four long cuts, including three amazing Brooks originals, and one by bassist Cecil McBee. Seminal jazz trumpeter Woody Shaw (who was not yet well known), pianist Hugh Lawson and tenor saxophonist George Coleman complete this terrific lineup. The Free Slave was made available on compact disc from the late Joel Dorn's 32 Jazz imprint at the beginning of the century, but has lapsed into the out-of-print netherworld on CD, although it is available as an inexpensive vinyl reissue. The Free Slave is a fingerpopping hard swinging date where hard bop, modal, and spiritual jazz traditions meet soul jazz, and further all of them. This set should never be out of print -- the samples below make that case.

The Free Slave

Understanding

Will Pan's Walk

Five For Max