This set by James L. Dean (who is heard on tenor, alto, and clarinet) is of particularly strong interest due to the inventive arrangements of Billy VerPlanck and the mostly obscure material. VerPlanck's charts are full of surprises and perfectly frame Dean's playing, inspiring him to make meaningful and concise statements. The supporting cast is especially strong, featuring trumpeter Claudio Roditi, trombonist George Masso (on three of the nine selections), pianist Jim McNeely, bassist Mike Richmond, drummer Joe Cocuzzo, and percussionist Glen Weber; fortunately, Dean does not dominate the solo space. With such songs as Wayne Shorter's "Black Nile," the theme from Body Heat, Victor Feldman's "Rio," and Billy Strayhorn's "Eighth Veil," this is mostly a hard-swinging set, one of Claudio Roditi's best outings. Worth searching for.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow