October 2003

Sonny Fortune/Billy Harper/Stanley Cowell/Reggie Workman/Billy Hart
Great Friends
Evidence Music

Recorded in 1986 in Paris and originally released only in France, Great Friends mines the John Coltrane spiritual legacy with fervent incantatory playing and an ecstatic charge. Not that alto saxophonist Fortune and tenor man Harper necessarily speak with Trane's voice, but the intensity of their playing and their use of certain scales and modes produce a Tranelike atmosphere. Drummer Hart (who organized this band at the request of a Japanese promoter), bassist Workman and pianist Cowell form a hard-hitting team along side the horns.

Things begin with "Cal Massey," a tribute penned by Cowell. Harper sets the spiritual vibe in motion with a big-toned, take-no-prisoners solo. The Texas tenor man has the heaviest low-register sound in the business. On Workman's "East Harlem Nostalgia," he chomps into the low notes as a prelude to wailing runs into the upper register. Harper's uptempo "Insight" is the album's tour de force, with rippling solos and torrid exchanges between the saxophonists. Fortune's searing tone is well suited to the exuberant joyride of this performance.

The rhythm section can be compared to the McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones triumvirate that backed Trane. Equally heavyweight and agile, it is relentless in its conviction and spiritual attitude.

Great Friends is hot.

Originally published in October 2003

1 Comment

  • Feb 24, 2014 at 02:49PM Bakeer Nu'Mani

    Destiny is Yours on this album should be a classic! Awwwwwwsome work by all who played so spiritually.So lyrical and extremely technical expressions of the spirits! nothing else needs to be said

Add a Comment

You need to log in to comment on this article. No account? No problem!