Just 19 years old at the time of this recording, Frank Catalano has talent to burn and chops to match. He takes liberties at times with overblown squawks, but is mainly a grounded bebopper with a full tone on tenor sax. The fine pianist Willie Pickens, bassist Brian Sandstrom, and drummers Robert Shy or Rusty Jones help out. Ira Sullivan guests on two tracks. Catalano swings hard and most effectively on his composition "Those Wacky Ways," while his expanded, harmonic, envelope-pushing is more prevalent on his tune "Party Time," another up bopper. There are two instances where Catalano goes into rubato and avant assimilations: during the three-minute intro of the otherwise waltz pace of Jimmy Rowles' "5:02 Blues," and the tenor-bass-drums trio lead of the modal bass swinging title track. Catalano also plays soprano or sopranino sax, as on Horace Silver's nicely turned out, easy swinging "Love Vibrations" (with Sullivan on flute), and the freely associated start of "5:02." Sullivan jumps in on trumpet for a good bop version of Monk's "I Mean You," a program highlight. Perhaps the teenager is best when he slows down -- his interpretation of "Willow Weep for Me" is careful and pristine, with Pickens' piano cascading sheets of passion all over the changes. The CD is bookended by tenor-drum (Rusty Jones) duets of "Confirmation" and "Tenor Madness," which both show slight imperfections in the reading of the melody lines. The funky, short blues tune "God Made It Beautiful" shows an interesting aside into Catalano's persona (he worked extensively with organist Charles Earland). As Catalano grows and learns, it's clear he's going to be a renowned musician. Considering he overcame the trauma of a severed finger that was reattached and now functions normally, it's a tribute to his perseverance that this CD exists, not to mention that it's this good.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos