Although Fantazm is Grammy-nominated arranger John La Barbera's album, it might as well have been billed as a La Barbera Brothers production, since John's brother Joe plays drums and brother Pat is featured throughout on tenor and soprano saxophone. With each of the siblings highly regarded in his own right, the superior quality of their collaboration is virtually assured. Add some of the best players in the Los Angeles area and the deal is cinched.
John's charts can readily be identified as the work of a seasoned pro, whether it's in his sensitive use of woodwinds on the ballad "My Love and I"--a feature for Pat's emotion-filled, Coltrane-influenced tenor--or in his clever use of rhythm 'n' blues concepts for his own "Pythodd Fellows," which includes Bill Cunliffe wailing on the B3 organ. Among the arranger's other efforts are an uptempo version of Woody Shaw's "Moontrane," where the ensemble displays a fine sense of dynamics; the Brazilian-inspired "Over F," a setting for the irrepressible Bob Shepard's dancing soprano; and the Duke Ellington-penned title track, whose Latin ambiance, woodwinds and prominent role for bass clarinet provide the setting for one of sopranoist Pat's best solos.