In a tribute to Count Basie, ex-Basie tenor saxophonist Frank Foster and Columbus, OH-based organist Hank Marr wend their way through 11 titles that, peripherally, have something to do with Basie. It's the ease of their swing, the simple melodies, and the direct approach that have to do with the Count, and the way these veterans tackle a few standards and their own originals, never forcing the issue. The underrated guitarist Cal Collins and drummer Jim Rupp provide rhythmic support. Of the seven Marr originals, the best is saved for last, the upbeat "Rhythmesque," where the band is on fire and Foster's blues-tinged boppish tenor jumps and jives. The turnaround on "April in Paris" called "Paris in April" is in the same key, Marr assimilating Wild Bill Davis' searing style and Foster playing tart sweet, as he does on most of the date. "Your Basic Gospel Tune," inspired by Horace Silver, is like a mix of "Groove Merchant" and "Red Top," Foster sounding happy and in tune with Marr's soulful, easy swinging. "Basie-cally Speaking" is based on "Whirly Bird"; "I'm Saving All My Hugs for You" is inspired by "Lil' Darlin'." Foster contributed the lone "Kathern the Great" for a discriminating fan in N.Y.C., another easy swinger with the organ at the end quoting "Who's Got the Last Laugh Now." Also included is the evergreen "Just a Closer Walk with Thee," where Marr uses a more church-oriented sound on one of his organ keyboards, a more burning approach on the other, quite like Jimmy Smith. "If I Had You," without Foster, is the lone feature for Collins, a ballad treatment where the guitar states the theme and extrapolates upon it, the organist does the same, then they both pine together. This is one of those recordings that sounds just fine, but begs for a follow-up. Foster's never played with any organist before, and Marr seems to be the perfect foil.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos