Prelude was a successful match of McDuff's small-combo organ jazz with big band arrangements by Benny Golson. In part, that was because the blend was well-executed, never fighting with or drowning out McDuff's organ. But it was also because the mixture made it stand out amidst the scads of organ jazz records being churned out in the early '60s. While a very young George Benson was in the core quartet on guitar, a dozen others supplemented the players, including trumpets, trombones, French horns, and saxophones. McDuff wrote about half the material, and while Golson was responsible for just one number, it's the standout title track, "Prelude." That nine-minute piece moves from an opening of almost classical orchestrated grand solemnity to a slow-bopping section dwelling on McDuff's mourning organ. Nothing else on the album matches it, but the rest is pretty good, sometimes leading off with other Golson orchestrations; Benson gets a chance to steal the solo spotlight for a bit in "Dig Cousin Will."
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger