The title of this 1961 release best sums up this quartet album. There is nothing particularly innovative about this recording, but the level of expertise and musical maturity displayed here is truly astonishing. This is simply straight-ahead hard bop performed by some of the finest musicians in 1960s jazz, including saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman and pianist Wynton Kelly.
Newman's playing is not only confident, it is unbelievably inspired. He rips through all six selections here, employing the great bebop vernacular developed by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Newman plays tenor, alto, and flute on STRAIGHT AHEAD, providing some variation to this set. Newman's flute work on his composition "Night of Nisan" is particularly energetic, as is his alto solo on his bluesy "Congo Chant." The highlight of the record, however, is the smoking, Caribbean-flavored opening track, "Batista's Groove."