Junior Mance / David "Fathead" Newman

Live at the Top of the Gate

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This recording comes from three live gigs Junior Mance played at one of New York's better jazz watering holes, the room at the top of The Gate, during September 1968. The four cuts on the album were selected from ten tunes actually taped, but which never made it to the final release. If any of the six that ended up on the cutting-room floor came close to these performances, then some awfully good jazz was wasted. Right from the first track, it's clear this is going to be a top-quality and high-energy outing. With David "Fathead" Newman on flute in lieu of his usual tenor sax, "Turning Point" combines the drive of bop with the flowing lines of the flute, giving a very unique aural experience. Never forgetting his musical base, jazz-soul, Mance is joined by Wilbur Little on bass and Paul Gusman on drums for a high-speed version of "Before This Time Next Year," with Mance's special way of handling the rhythmic and harmonic settings coming to the fore. This track features some quite amazing ebb-and-flow bass by Little and clearly was a favorite with the audience. Mance's zealous interpretation of Billy Taylor's "I Wish I Knew How It Would Be to Be Free" takes on gospel proportions, with the audience getting caught up in the fervor of it all. Newman returns, this time on tenor for his take on the melody line of "That's All." This is another satisfying session by Mance, who never received the attention and credit he merited for his playing.

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