Pianist, writer and arranger Webster Lewis became best known for '70s disco hits like "Barbara Ann" and "On the Town," but he was also a collaborator with such modern-jazz eminences as George Russell, Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock. This 1971 live recording from Oslo, Norway — now expanded with additional unreleased tracks — was his first solo release, and catches him at the helm of a formidable quintet who run the gamut from shrieking free noise to funk, blues and fragile mood-painting.
It opens with the 20-minute odyssey of "Do You Believe," featuring Judd Watkins'spectacular pseudo-operatic baritone over a rolling groove that stretches out and breathes in with organic fluency. The shimmering impressionism of "Saturday Night Opening" is a showcase for Stan Strickland's haunting tenor sax, while "Space Rock" hints at the abstract explorations of Miles Davis's Bitches Brew. In "Qvote-Unqvote," Jimmy Hopps'percussion barrage faces off against a screaming horn apocalypse. And if that's not enough, there are two takes of Lewis'fabled arrangement of the Isley Brothers'"It's Your Thing" (frequently sampled by hip-hoppers). It's a classic, reborn.