Frank Strozier, Fantastic Frank Strozier

Ed Ward

By Ed Ward

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Fantastic Frank Strozier

Frank Strozier
Quite simply, a classic of hard bop.

Never heard of alto saxophonist Frank Strozier? You're not alone. Despite his talent, he didn't record as much as he probably should have. This Vee-Jay album, however, is held up by many as a classic of hard bop — as well it should be. A short-time veteran of Miles Davis 'band, Strozier recorded here with its rhythm section, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb, and, replacing Davis, the young genius trumpeter Booker Little, who died very early and whose recordings are regarded with awe by connoisseurs. As might be expected, this session features challenging, far-reaching arrangements which push all the players to deliver extraordinary performances, which include alternate takes from the original album and previously unreleased numbers. It's not background music by any means, and rewards repeated listening. Strozier reinvented himself as a pianist at one point, but this may be the album that assures his place in the pantheon.