This was previously issued as The Lost West Side Story Tapes, but the sound is restored and improved. The elaborate studio production was taped in San Francisco in 1985, two years before the drummer died. It features, if not Rich’s best latter-day band, a good one. The robust saxophonist Steve Marcus gets plenty of solo space. The less-well-known tenor man Brian Sjoerdinga has one solo, but it is memorable, as is young Bill Cunliffe’s piano work. Trumpeter Paul Phillips has a ripping solo on “Cottontail.” Rich is the center of interest, and while he’s a bit worn, he’s amazing nonetheless. If you have never heard and seen him in his star turn on a medley from West Side Story, here’s a chance to let him take your breath away.
Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.