This live set is a must-hear despite the familiar tune listing: Monk's "Evidence" and "Let's Call This," plus the Waldron favorites "What It Is" and "Snake Out." The leader's tunes are funky and dramatic and they spur soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy to some very frenzied playing. During "Snake Out," which boasts a downright demonic-sounding head, Lacy emits furious growls, a technique which may surprise and possibly delight fans of his more "inside" work. Waldron is excellent as usual, his solo on "What It Is" marked by meditative repeated figures, harking back to his 1961 Five Spot recordings with Eric Dolphy. Reggie Workman on bass and Eddie Moore on drums sound very excited to be part of the engagement, both in their heavily swinging solos and in their accompaniment. Live at Sweet Basil is highly recommended as an introduction to both Waldron and Lacy, as these performances reveal the quirks of each of their styles in a peppy, yet very profound setting. Incidentally, the Monk readings here are definitive, as there are perhaps no more seasoned interpreters of his music than these two, who first united to play Monk's tunes on the 1958 New Jazz date Reflections.
AllMusic Review by Henry M. Shteamer