From the opening patterns of Denis Charles' drums on the title cut, the listener knows he/she is in for something special. One can only imagine what the reaction of the average jazz fan was in 1960 when this session was recorded. This is a wonderful document from early in Taylor's career, when he was midway between modernist approaches to standard material and his own radical experiments that would come to full fruition a few years hence. The quartet, rounded out by the youthful Archie Shepp (playing only on "Air" and "Lazy Afternoon") and bassist Buell Neidlinger, is already quite comfortable at pushing the boundaries of the period, giving an almost cursory reading of the themes before leaping into improvisation. The standard "This Nearly Was Mine" is explored gorgeously and with strong romanticism by Taylor, giving perhaps an indication of the source of the brief, blissful encores he would offer up to end his solo concerts in coming decades. "Port of Call" and "Eb" are both utter masterpieces showing Taylor already maintaining an unheard of mastery of the piano, musical ideas darting like sparks from his fingertips. What's extra amazing is how deeply entrenched the blues feel and pulse are in this music, already bound for the further reaches of abstraction. They never left Taylor, although many listeners have difficulty discerning them. This session, which has been released under numerous guises, is an especially fine introduction to his work, keeping enough of a foot in "traditional" jazz forms to offer one purchase while dangling breathtaking visions of the possible within one's reach. A classic recording that belongs in anyone's collection.
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AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick