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Mac Gollehon and Smokin’ Section: In the Spirit of Fats Navarro

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With a range, power, and technique even the gentle Fats would have killed for, trumpeter Mac Gollehon here engages 12 numbers, four of which-“Eb-Pob,” “Nostalgia,” “Fats Blows” and “Boperation”-are Navarro originals, with the remainder consisting of Lockjaw Davis’ heated “Spinal,” Bud Powell’s “Dance of the Infidels,” Tadd Dameron’s “Our Delight” and five of the leader’s own devising.

Deserving of almost as much praise as Gollehon’s full-bodied sound and deftly executed flights, though not heard to the same extent, are the exciting solos of trombonist Frank Lacy, pianist James Hurt and the big-toned baritonist Ronnie Cuber. However, the overall success of these performances owes equally to the rhythmic push-and-pull of drummer Ronnie Burrage, clearly a beneficiary of the best teachings of Max Roach, Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones and Elvin Jones. Thankfully, his kit is recorded in perfect balance with the horns, thus lending an admirably “live” quality to this studio date.

Apparently, Gollehon has been on the scene for some time now, so it is all the more incredible that his name is not better known. His fluency in the classic bop style of Navarro is matched only by the compelling expressiveness of his own voice, which is largely reserved for exhibition on the originals, of which “Mac Blows” is the most arresting.