Trumpet player Mac Gollehon spent time in the studios backing many pop and rock artists of the day, including Mick Jagger, David Bowie, and Madonna. Gollehon and his sextet, Smokin' Section, have performed at such venues as the Blue Note. For his fourth album heading his group, Gollehon chose to honor a master of the bop trumpet, Fats Navarro. But right from the first track, "Spinal," the listener is made to understand that this tribute is not the typical recycling of the honoree's most famous recordings or emulating his special way with the horn. The homage comes in the form of playing some of Navarro's well-conceived compositions as well as those by some of his collaborators in the furtherance of the bop, such as Bud Powell and one of Navarro's constant partners during his tragically short life, Tadd Dameron. While you hear some Navarro in Gollehon's playing, especially on "Boperation," he is an unabashed member of "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead"Lester Bowie approach to blowing. Listening to such cuts as Dameron's "Our Delight" makes that eminently clear. This track features one of the two guests on the program, big-time baritone sax player Ronnie Cuber as well as the sextet's pianist, James Hurt. Cuber also gets plenty of space on a hard bop rendition of Gollehon's "Mac Blows," as he and the trumpet player go at it hammer and tong, recalling those breath taking blowing sessions of the bop era. This track is characteristic of the high energy, hard driving playing, solo and in ensemble, that dominates this session. While Gollehon's playing conjures up aural images of the past master, it's his dramatic, invigorating way with the trumpet that makes this album especially attractive.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan