Sonny Greenwich's vision of a guitar-based version of the John Coltrane Quartet circa 1963 is realized only intermittently on this 1978 live recording from Toronto. In his quest, the Canadian guitarist often adopts a purposefully primitive style, bringing a faux-naif, childlike approach to technique, execution, and intonation. That's fine. The problem is with Greenwich's general lack of dynamics and tone. As a result, the date remains largely earthbound, when something more cosmic was clearly intended. Pianist Don Thompson and bassist Gene Perla, both formidable talents, have difficulty accommodating themselves to Greenwich's conception. Thompson relegates himself to minimalist comping, while Perla frequently seems superfluous. The real action is between Greenwich and drummer Claude Ranger. The drummer is, in fact, the main point of interest. He is attuned to Greenwich's objective and engages the guitarist throughout, at times coming close to the type of intense communication that occurred between Elvin Jones and Coltrane in the later work of the classic quartet. This release also has its more orthodox stretches, such as the lively treatment of Horace Silver's "Nica's Dream" and the fairly straight reading of the Mercer-Mandel ballad "Emily." The most successful track, though, is the title track, where the Greenwich-Ranger axis hits a vein of pure energy, with the guitarist's primitivism and the drummer's free-pulsing torrent combining for a few moments of apocalyptic grandeur.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jim Todd