Charles McPherson - First Flight Out

Arabesque Jazz

Release Date: December 13th 1994

Re-release date: March 5th 2009

Availabilty: CD, MP3 download

First Flight Out cover

There are jazz albums and then there are jazz albums that are exceptional. "First Flight Out", almost unknown and just re-released by Arabesque, is very much in the latter category.

Charles McPherson's alto sax playing is almost good enough to make you think that Charlie Parker is still with us. The twelve tracks of "First Flight Out" cover the whole range of jazz emotions. The backing band - Michael Weiss (piano), Peter Washington (bass), and Victor Lewis (drums) - is sympathetic and tight. And into all this you have to add the imagination and insight of Tom Harrell's evocative trumpet playing.

In short, the iconography of a great album.

At the centre is the take on "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat", Charles Mingus' homage to Lester Young. To say that the closing solo by Tom Harrell is exceptional would be a large understatement. Dust down clich├ęs such as hairs on the back of the neck standing up and goose bumps and you don't begin to get close. The fact that Charles McPherson spent twelve years in the Charles Mingus band has much to do with the feeling that this song is understood and reinterpreted at a level of intensity that few have equaled.

There are many other high points: the poise and elegance of "Blues For Chuck"; the exuberance of the version of Thelonious Monk's "Well You Needn't"; the bop sensibility of "7th Dimension"; the upfront beauty of "Portrait".

Very highly recommended.


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Interview with Charles McPherson at WFIU

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