When Early Bird Records Executive Producer Mickey Bass was asked to record a group of his favorite Musicians in a sextet format for the labels' debut release; he merely smiled and said "Consider it done!"
Within the space of half an hour he had assembled a line-up of some of the most formidable and respected Musicians on the scene.....
"There is a special magic which occurs when top-flight Musicians ‘jell’ into one cohesive unit. That magic can be all the more enhanced…..when they come together once again".
"The Jazz mainstream spans the Globe, connecting Continents, crossing time zones, splitting into countless tributaries. This new recording represents one of the first entries from the new Early Bird Records; a 'straight-ahead' label, who's Owner and Artistic Director, Bassist Mickey Bass, includes among his credits, stints with The 'Jazz Messengers', Sonny Rollins and Gloria Lynne. This production is a studio outing from late 1990; a strong 'Post-bop' session that leans towards the 'Avant-garde' without lapsing into a melodic meandering.The Reunion Legacy Band unites long-time friends; three ex-'Messengers' (Bass, Bartz and Hicks) and several onetime Howard University students (Bass, Tolliver and Hart).
Their most telling commonality, however, is their insistence on invention within the acoustic tradition. In terms of pure swing, the opening cut (and only standard), "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You", sets the CDs' overall mood, on a joyous, pungently horn-voiced chestnut, that recalls the Big-band heyday. The other six numbers on this 51 minute CD reflect the various improvisatory and compositional talents of the sextet; Bass chipped in two numbers, while Hicks, Bartz, Tolliver and Moncur add one apiece.
Don't let the "outside" reputation of these cats dissuade you from checking out THE LEGACY. This is focused, direct, high-impact Music."
(Jazz Column by Gene Kalbacker, CMJ, New Music Report)
"This recording features a sextet performing in a mid-sixties post-hard bop style consisting of mostly original compositions ("I'm Getting Sentimental Over You", done with a pointilistic horn arrangement, being the lone exception). The material is somewhat varied - Bartz' Calypso flavored "Do A Funny Dance"; Moncurs' Waltz "A For Pops" ( a tribute to Louis Armstrong, featuring a lyrical Bass solo by Mickey Bass); Hicks' "Avotcja" (reminiscent of Herbie Hancocks'"Eye of The Hurricane"); Tollivers' 'Jazz Messengers' tinged "Franess" and Bass' two numbers; "The Juggler" and "Brother Rick"; the former is also done with Blakeys' spirit in mind, and the latter conjures up Coltranes' "Giant Steps"....."
(Eugene Holley Jr. Jazz Times)
THE MIDDLE PASSAGE
GARY BARTZ ESCAPES THE DOLDRUMS
A more studied Bartz emerges on The Legacy by the Reunion Legacy Band (Early Bird 102), which brings together six of those once promising young players of the '60s, some of whom
have been seemingly lost among the jazz diaspora. The ties run deep. The session was produced by Mickey Bass, who appeared on Bartz's unreleased first session along with John Hicks, who is also present. Hicks was a member of Music Inc. the cooperative band created by Charles Tolliver that eventually led to the formation of the mysterious record label Strata-East. Tolliver, who as noted, appeared on Another Earth, shares the front line with Bartz and Grachan Moncur III, who through his '60s association with Jackie McLean and two celebrated Blue Note albums of his own, was an admitted influence on Bartz. The drummer is Billy Hart, the only member of the group who didn't also contribute a composition or arrangement--- Bass wrote two. Moncur presents a problem; he beefs up the ensemble but is weak and ineffectual in his solos. He did contribute one of the more savory pieces, " A for Pops," which evokes Blue Note glories more than it does Louis Armstrong and the record might better have employed his writing. Tolliver also appears ill at ease at the opening of "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" (a solid bass setting), but it's a momentary lapse; his rigorous playing is elated and robust, as is most of the session. The rhythm section is buoyant, the writing incisive, though in a couple of instances additional takes would have made for a stronger album. Bartz contributes one of his best pieces, a Rollinsesque calypso called "Do a Funny Dance," and is overall the most forceful soloist. On "Brother Rick" he opens with short bluff figures and is soon winging his way through the changes in the kind of hot pursuit that defines bop alto at the edge of a storm - the very storm that should blow him, and many of his contemporaries back to the center of jazz consciousness.
(WEATHER BIRD GARY GIDDINS