This solo piano CD marks Onaje Allan Gumbs' first recording under his own name. Gumbs displays surprisingly maturity for a composer only in his mid-20s at the time of the recording, performing a series of thought-provoking originals. His tense "Street Life" begins ominously with softly plucked strings in the distance, while the keyboard suggests being followed on a seemingly deserted street late at night, with the various themes suggesting the tension in the pedestrian's mind. "Timeless" is an upbeat, playful post-bop vehicle, while "It Sho' Do Feel Good Did Ya Here Me?" has obvious gospel roots. When Gumbs is playing works by others, he does not take the predictable path. His approach to "Giant Steps" plays tricks with the tempo, turning it into a stutter step waltz, showing off his right hand, yet never speeding up to the expected rhythm. Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma" also benefits from his imagination, becoming a richly textured ballad while abandoning the trumpeter's rhythmic foundation. In the decades which have followed this debut, Onaje Allan Gumbs may not have earned the accolades which he has merited, but this CD is well-worth acquiring.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden