John Handy's performance at the 1965 Monterey Jazz Festival was a sensation and arguably the high point of his career. The altoist, using a quintet that included violinist Michael White, guitarist Jerry Hahn, bassist Don Thompson, and drummer Terry Clarke (all of whom were young unknowns at the time), played two lengthy songs: the 27-minute "If Only We Knew" and "Spanish Lady," which lasts a mere 19 and a half minutes. After a brief theme, "If Only We Knew" mostly features unaccompanied solos. Handy's opening statement immediately quieted the crowd, which was amazed by the altoist's courage and the logic of the advanced yet tonal music. "Spanish Lady" also has a long Handy statement and builds up to a very exciting conclusion. Even over three decades later, the music sounds fresh, colorful, and innovative. The original Columbia LP (which has been long out of print) had reversed the order of the songs and even their titles so this Koch CD reissue is very welcome on several levels. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow