Saxophonist and flutist Sahib Shihab hit the scene a tiny bit later than the first generation of beboppers. Perhaps as a consequence he never attained anything near their renown. He was nevertheless a fine, versatile player, and—as this album shows—an underappreciated composer and arranger.
This music comes from sessions Shihab played in his adopted home of Copenhagen in 1965 and 1971 with the 12-piece Danish Radio Jazz Group and a quartet featuring the pianist Kenny Drew. Shihab plays soprano on most of the quartet tracks, displaying a heartiness of tone not often heard on the small horn. His baritone work is first-class. On the medium swinger “From Me to You” he plays with a dark tone and shows a loose, expressive manner of shaping his line. His alto flute is, if anything, even more compelling; he has a nicely elliptical, rhythmically ambiguous approach that flows naturally in and out of time on the bossa-tinged “Companionship.”
The remaining tracks showcase Shihab’s talent writing for a little big band. The inspiration and attention to detail that went into such imaginatively conceived hard-swingers as “The Crosseyed Cat” and “Di-Da” are characteristics of a major compositional talent. I recommend this album unreservedly—a wonderful document by a little-remembered yet manifestly world-class musician.