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Various Artists: The Legacy Lives On

Crusader drummer Stix Hooper has lined up a who’s who of talent for the initial offering on his new label: tenormen Teddy Edwards and James Moody, trumpeter Oscar Brashear, pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Al McKibbon and guitarist Kenny Burrell. With Willie Jones on drums, this is the core group heard on half of the discs’ 16 tunes. At 76, Edwards is the group’s elder and has a standout history that includes battling with Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray in the ’40s. Teamed with Moody (a mere 75 when this was recorded last year), they conspire agreeably on Edwards’ “Sunset Eyes” and Sweets Edison’s “Centerpiece.” Brashear is in stunning form there (as is Burrell), and on the handful of tunes where he solos, but especially so on “Jazz” and-muted-on Benny Carter’s “When Lights Are Low.”

Moody gets his licks in on his “Last Train from Overbrook” and an eight-minute “Sweet Lorraine” that features him with rhythm only, with Pete Jolly replacing the irreplaceable Walton on the latter. Moody’s vocal version of his “Moody’s Mood for Love” is a minor riot: he sings falsetto (as the woman in the piece), raps (over a hip-hop beat) and ends by yodeling. Walton, whose name should be on everyone’s lips, never fails to deliver the goods in either large or small group settings; his duet with Jon Hendricks on “Last Night When We Were Young,” with Hendricks’ bittersweet vocals etching the lyrics over Walton’s luxurious accompaniment, is one of this set’s highlights.

Hendricks is a bit shakier, however, on “New Rhumba” and “When Lights Are Low.” Vocalist Ernie Andrews pops in and has a cordial go at “Old Man Jazz,” while Shirley Horn leaves us with a masterful-and hauntingly wistful-“It Never Entered My Mind.” Hooper and Ray Brown join guitarist Larry Koonse for Eubie Blake’s “Memories of You” and, better, a muted “Blue Monk.”

The music on The Legacy Lives On is varied enough to forestall grabbing the remote, making this a very enjoyable package.

Originally Published