Sonny Criss

Up, Up and Away

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Altoist Sonny Criss' Prestige recordings of the late 1960s generally included a current pop tune or two along with some stronger jazz pieces. This 1998 CD reissue is of particular interest because the intense altoist is teamed with guitarist Tal Farlow (who had recently come out of retirement before slipping back into obscurity for a few more years), pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Lenny McBrowne. "Up, Up and Away" (the Fifth Dimension hit) has more challenging chord changes than one would think and, although "Sunny" is lightweight, Criss really digs in and uplifts it. In addition, the leader overflows "Willow Weep for Me" with soul, plays a strong solo on Horace Tapscott's "This Is for Benny" and displays his blues roots on "Paris Blues." However the highpoint is a burning rendition of "Scrapple from the Apple" that finds Criss and Farlow engaged in torrid trade-offs. So overall this CD is more rewarding than it might appear at first glance.

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