Frank Strozier Quintet: What’s Goin’ On

What’s goin’ on here is a sort of two-fer, with alternate takes of all five tracks from the 1978 LP release of this material. Unfortunately, there seems to be little reason for their inclusion: the issued takes were the better versions, and we learn too little from their differences. Throughout, Strozier’s alto (flute on one track) is the vehicle for a fluid musical voice that has synthesized Parker and Coltrane into a distinctive if not perhaps distinguished voice. Louis Hayes on drums is a constant source of interest, and Stafford James’ bass is usually up to the challenges of tempo and texture that these arrangements represent. Danny Moore, in his sole appearance on trumpet, is all but invisible. Pianist Harold Mabern is, on the other hand, too much in evidence, favoring overwrought cascades that tend to consume any breathing room that might have benefited the music. Strozier would have been better served by combining these five selections with another of his SteepleChase LPs.