Al Cohn is joined by guitarist Harry Leahey, bassist Steve Gilmore, and drummer Bill Goodwin (three-quarters of alto saxophonist Phil Woods' rhythm section for a time in the mid-'70s) for this 1986 concert at East Stroudsburg University in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. This talented group stretches out on each of the eight selections, with plenty of solo space for each man. The tenor saxophonist's tone had deepened a good bit by this point in his life, less than two years before his death, but his consistently inventive solos are rewarding throughout the date. Sadly, the underappreciated Leahey died only two years after, so this relatively rare opportunity to hear him in a live setting is very welcome. "The Hymn" proves to be a stimulating opener; while the sound quality from the master tape unfortunately distorts his lush playing of the timeless ballad "What's New," it is possible to tune out these distractions. It's obvious that this tape was not made with the idea of making a commercial release, and though it is far from flawless, the rewarding music makes it worth acquiring. It's available for a limited time through the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors), and a portion of the proceeds from its sale benefits the Al Cohn Memorial Collection at East Stroudsburg University.
In Concert April 17, 1986 Review
by Ken Dryden