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Payne's Window

Cecil Payne

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Album Review

This release for the 76-year-old baritone saxophonist does not fare as well as Cerupa and Scotch & Milk, primarily because his tone is thin and edgier than his partners, trombonist Steve Davis and the wonderful tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander. However, this is still a pretty good CD with nearly 73 minutes of vibrant, swinging modern jazz from the aforementioned horn players and especially the ever brilliant pianist Harold Mabern. The first four cuts are Cecil Payne originals. "Spiritus Parkus" is a bopper with strident trombone, fluttery tenor, and Payne's dour accents. "Martin Luther King, Jr." is a poignant, regretful ballad replete with Mabern's regal piano, Payne's tart and sweet bari, and Davis' weeping trombone. "James" has a cute, child-like melody but swings pretty hard, while "That's It Blues" is slower and proof positive of Alexander's prowess in this style. Of the standards, "Lover Man" is Payne's feature, and when the other more in-tune horns lay out, he takes charge and commands attention. Payne sits back on Miles Davis' "Tune Up," playing the bridge but not much of the hard and fast melody. The Clifford Brown-associated "Delilah" has Payne on flute (which is slightly less biting than his bari), while Steve Davis wrote the title cut, which has a singsong melody and another definitive solo from Alexander. With the aforementioned crew, along with up-and-coming drummer Joe Farnsworth and bassist John Webber, Payne has all the support he needs. Perhaps his embouchure is wanting or he needs to tune up a little — he is tonally challenged and that may dissuade some from championing him — but more often than not, he's a successful team player, and that is evident in spades on this slightly off-putting but still enjoyable recording. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Biography

Born: 14 December 1922 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Acclaimed by peers and critics among the finest baritone saxophonists of the bebop era, Cecil Payne remains best remembered for his three-year stint with Dizzy Gillespie's seminal postwar big band. Born in Brooklyn, NY, on December 14, 1922, Payne began playing saxophone at age 13, gravitating to the instrument after hearing Lester Young's work on Count Basie's "Honeysuckle Rose." Young's supple, lilting tone remained a profound influence throughout Payne's career. After learning to play under the...
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Payne's Window, Cecil Payne
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