The dual nature of Lew Tabackin as an otherworldly flutist and straight-ahead post-bop tenor saxophonist does merge into a common ground that can be simply spelled out as brilliant. Transcending his influences while also remaining true to them, Tabackin devotes three tracks apiece to his main instruments, alternating originals and standards with an outstanding quartet featuring the equally extraordinary pianist Don Friedman, reliable drummer Shelly Manne, and his favored bassist, Bob Daugherty. Hardly a split personality, it's more two sides of a coin in theory, as any jazz musician as extraordinary as Tabackin must explore his inner and outer soul. The flute side of his persona is more pronounced, exotic, atmospheric, and tinged with vibrato-drenched Asian flourishes. The impressionist Greek-based theme of pianist Bill Mays' "Euterpe" (goddess of music and poetry) sets the tone for this multicultural stance, a statuesque, somewhat busy, Rodin-type mysterious bronzed melody suggesting more than it states. Wife Toshiko Akiyoshi's big-band chart "Yellow Is Mellow" strips away the horns, leaving Tabackin's flute to muse lightheartedly in an easy swinging mood. Then "Out of This World" ramps up into a furious bop with some unusual off-minor vamps from Daugherty, with harmonies quickly sweetened over nearly ten minutes. The tenor side of Tabackin is easily identifiable on his original "No Dues Blues," a showstopping hard bopper with the influence of Sonny Rollins as the focal point, starting with a drum/sax duet, then rambling on. The ballad "My Ideal" offers ultimate tenderness, as Tabackin expresses the lineage between Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, and especially Lester Young. Again like Rollins, Irving Berlin's "Russian Lullaby" has that "Airegin" swagger of Rollins down pat -- fluid, warm, and effusive hard bop at its best. There's no need to overemphasize the impressive qualities Tabackin and his band possess, as it's all here for appreciative listeners to enjoy on this marvelous recording that has been issued on CD by Inner City -- one of two excellent efforts from this time period.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos