At age 33 for this one, Mance (piano), with Bob Cranshaw (bass) and Mickey Roker (drums), has all the jazz and blues bases covered, going back to boogie and stride, through swing and bop, with a couple of more modernistic numbers rounding out this complete overview of classic American soul-based black music. Mance evokes wonderfully patient, romantic notions on "Creole Love Call," with creamy, molasses-like melodicism stirred by Roker's expert brush work. "Yancey Special" has Mance digging in and getting down as Roker shuffles along. "In the Evening" is much more tinkling and upbeat here than Leroy Carr wrote it, whereas the hard-swinging "Jumpin' the Blues" is as much fun to hear as it must have been to play. At his most delicate on Ray Brown's "Gravy Waltz," Mance starts solo, staggering the melody, while a relaxed "Blue Monk" has Mance tossing in extra notes during the melody, Roker's intricate brush work personifying cool. Mance also wrote three originals for the date: "Down the Line" is a straight up-and-down 12-bar blues, replete with tinkles and head-nodding chords; "Rainy Mornin' Blues" evokes the falling precipitation's patterns in soulful tones; while "Cracklin'" is the most urgent swinger, with repeated chorus and gospel flavoring. In his liner notes, Dan Morgenstern depicts this music perfectly as "the basic spirit of jazz," and for the times that rings true. It's one of many consistently crafted works Mance would make over the years that mixed jazz and blues 50/50. Recommended.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos