Clifford Jordan's two volumes of sessions under the title Glass Bead Games have long been heralded as some of the most important work of his career. These once rare recordings, previously issued as individual albums and as a two-LP set by Strata East, feature the late tenor saxophonist leading two separate quartets. The first, with pianist Stanley Cowell, bassist Bill Lee and drummer Billy Higgins, consists of seven powerful originals by the band. The portraits include Jordan's well-named "Powerful Paul Robeson" and Cowell's driving post-bop tribute "Cal Massey." But it is Lee's moving "John Coltrane" which opens with a solo chorus by its composer and includes a vocal chant by Jordan, Higgins and Lee, that leaves the most lasting impression, with influences from throughout several of Coltrane's landmark recordings made during the '60s. Lee's "Biskit," which follows his piece "Eddie Harris," sounds as if Harris himself could have written it. The second quartet has Cedar Walton taking over on piano and Sam Jones on bass. This session is not quite as adventurous but is every bit as enjoyable, with stimulating compositions by Walton, Cowell, Higgins and Jones. Jordan devours his drummer's "Alias Buster Henry" whole with his far-reaching solo. Jones' blues "One for Amos" was the only established piece recorded for the album, having received wide exposure during the previous decade; this updated arrangement ranks among its finest interpretations. Long out of print and fetching high prices at auctions, this Harvest Song reissue, which combines all issued tracks on one disc, returns a legendary release to print at a much more affordable price. Highly recommended!
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden