Time can take its toll on a musician's chops, especially if he/she quits practicing regularly. But it doesn't have to be that way. Recorded live at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago in August 2000, this CD finds Cecil Payne continuing to play impressively well at 77. The baritone saxophonist is in fine form throughout Chic Boom, a bop-oriented effort that employs Jim Rotondi on trumpet, Eric Alexander on tenor sax, Harold Mabern on piano, John Webber on bass, and Joe Farnsworth on drums. The oldest sideman is Mabern, who turned 64 in 2000; all of the others are at least 40 years younger than Payne, including Alexander (one of the more impressive Young Lions who emerged in the 1990s). Payne has no problem keeping up with musicians who are young enough to be his grandchildren; in fact, he's every bit as energetic as they are on original compositions like "Cit Sac," "Bosco," and "Chic Boom." The only thing on the CD that Payne didn't write or co-write is the standard "Here's That Rainy Day," which reminds us just how expressive and soulful he can be on ballads. Regrettably, Payne's catalog isn't nearly as large as it should be, and that makes this excellent live date all the more valuable.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson