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July/August 2002

Various Artists
The Legacy Lives On 2
Mack Avenue Records

The Legacy Lives On II has variety in 17 new recordings produced by entrepreneur and drummer Stix Hooper. But with a total time of 75 minutes, it is unclear why this set required two CDs.

George Shearing gives a superb unaccompanied performance of "But Beautiful," and with a quartet that includes Hooper, guitarist Reg Schwager and bassist Neil Swainson he plays serious blues on "Serious Grease." But Shearing takes an odd businessman's bounce approach to "Darn That Dream."

Anita O'Day shows spirit and swing on four songs with Paul Smith's trio, but her voice, sadly, is in tatters. Vibraharpist Terry Gibbs plays with his customary energy and crisp attack on his 1960s staple "El Nutto," more reflectively on "Mean to Me" and an original, "Dance for Eartha." Les McCann sings, plays piano and synthesizer and leads a seven-piece band in one of his patented funk-soul numbers, "Right Here and Now." The piece is nicely arranged by Hooper and Phil Wright and driven by Hooper's drums.

The highlights come on three tracks each by pianist Cedar Walton's Eastern Rebellion and a quintet headed by trumpeter Conte Candoli and tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb. Walton's working quartet includes Ralph Moore on tenor sax. Both are splendid on "Willow Weep for Me," Milt Jackson's blues "SKJ" and Blue Mitchell's "Fungii Mama," with bassist Tony Dumas and drummer Ralph Penland strong in support. Candoli and Christlieb's expressive powers are fully engaged on "My Melancholy Baby," "Lover Man" and "Travisimo," Al Cohn's engaging line on the "Back Home in Indiana" changes. Candoli was at the top of his game even a few days before his death in December of 2001.

Originally published in July/August 2002
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