This pair of 1983 concerts is one of Bobby Watson's earliest dates as a leader and his first of several recordings for Red; joining him is an all-Italian rhythm section consisting of pianist Piero Bassini, bassist Attilo Zanchi, and drummer Giampiero Prina. Although this alum of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers learned a lot during his tenure with the drummer, this live LP finds him still in the process of finding his own sound. Watson seems intent on leaving no note unplayed on a up-tempo run through the old warhorse "Cherokee"; there's no questioning his intensity, but his playing is below the level of the decade which followed. He switches to soprano sax for another fast number, John Coltrane's "Mr. P.C.," though he quickly ducks out to feature his pianist's fine solo first; Watson's solo is a little thin. "Perpetual Groove" is an unaccompanied feature for alto sax that will likely be of interest more to students of the instrument for its technique (which includes circular breathing), for the composition itself doesn't stand up to repeated hearings, as it sounds more like an exercise. The purposely off-key introduction to Sonny Rollins' "Oleo" is a bit of a surprise at first, but the repetitious figures which follow ruin the effect of it somewhat. The quartet signs off with a brief encore of Dizzy Gillespie's "Blue'n Boogie." The trio, who are also known as "Open Form Trio", are very supportive of Watson and would go on to record two additional (and much stronger) dates with him for Red in 1985. The sound on this concert recording is a little below the label's normally high standards, as it is a bit muddy in places. Not yet reissued on CD, this disc will be of interest primarily to devoted fans of Bobby Watson.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden