This 1956 set partners baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne with the superb rhythm section of pianist Duke Jordan, drummer Art Taylor, and bassist Tommy Potter. Their performances of originals, standards, and a pair of Randy Weston compositions are unpretentious bop artistry of a high caliber. Jordan and Potter played together in Charlie Parker's quintet of the late '40s and are well-equipped to meet the demands of bebop. The pianist's economical, swinging style falls somewhere between Count Basie's and Thelonious Monk's. Like them, Jordan is supremely skilled at saying a lot with a little. His open approach leaves plenty of space for the unassuming virtuosity of Potter and Taylor. Potter, in particular, merits close attention. He is a master of the walking bass, spilling out a relentless four to the bar with the precision of a Swiss timepiece and the obsession of one whose calling is, above all, to swing and to swing righteously. Payne's conception is the opposite of the big-throated, baritone sax roar of his Savoy labelmate Pepper Adams. Rather, his light tone calls to mind Lester Young's tenor sax, a parallel that is most apparent on Payne's extended solo on his ballad treatment of "How Deep Is the Ocean." On four of the eight tracks on this 1991 CD reissue the quartet is joined by trumpeter Kenny Dorham, who is in excellent form, adding a high-energy second voice to the frontline and a fearless chorus on the quintet's version of Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin' High." For listeners who have yet to become acquainted with Cecil Payne, this classic mid-'50s Savoy recording would make a good introduction.
AllMusic Review by Jim Todd