It's truly regrettable that, for various reasons, it took 12 years for Buddy Charles' fine We're Here album to reach the public. Charles, a Las Vegas drummer, bandleader, composer and arranger, recorded it in Los Angeles in 1993 with some of the West Coast's finest players, augmented by three present or former members of his Las Vegas band: tenorist Jack Montrose, trumpeter Carl Saunders and altoist Charlie McLean. The musicians comprise an all-star lineup, including pianist Pete Jolly, tenorist Pete Christlieb, altoist Gary Foster and trombonists Bill Watrous, Andy Martin and Bob McChesney, to name but a few.
Except for two Charles originals, the interesting and diverse charts are the products of such stellar arrangers as Montrose (four), Frank Mantooth (three) and Gordon Brisker (two). Given the nature of the talent involved, one could expect the music to be straightahead, and it is. Also one could anticipate superior musicianship in all aspects, and that, too, is the case. Among an abundance of highlights is Saunders' great chorus on Brisker's bossa nova "When I Close My Eyes," Christlieb's booting solo on Mantooth's arrangement of "Freddy the Freeloader" and the tenorist's moving and lyrical rendering of "We'll Be Together Again."