Ray Brown-Monty Alexander-Sam Most: Too Late Now
Too Late Now
A Ray Brown 3 (Concord 4213)
Composed by Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner.
Recorded: San Francisco, CA, Feb. 1982
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
There's plenty of Ray Brown and Monty Alexander to be heard on numerous CDs, but most of flutist Sam Most's work is hard to come by. Most was both a pioneer and innovator on the instrument in the '50's, a bop flutist who may have been the first to utilize a humming or singing technique. Charles Mingus once told Most, "You're the world's greatest jazz flute player." He was an admitted early inspiration to many other jazz flutists, including Herbie Mann, James Moody, Yusef Lateef, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Hubert Laws, and Joe Farrell. Mann, in the liner notes to Most's 1976 Mostly Flute album (on which Sam also played clarinet), was quoted as saying, "The order of jazz flutists is Wayman Carver with the Chick Webb band, Harry Klee with Phil Moore, and Sam Most. Then the rest of us followed." Although Jerome Richardson actually recorded flute solos with Lionel Hampton in 1949 and 1950, and fellow multi-instrumentalists Frank Wess, Bud Shank, and Buddy Collette were among those to emerge on flute soon after Most several years later, none (except Mann) became as dedicated to it as did Sam. Most largely disappeared into the studios and pit bands in the '60's after touring with Buddy Rich, and was coming off a wonderful series of "comeback" albums for the Xanadu label that began in 1976 when he joined Brown and Alexander for this 1982 session.
Alexander's tender intro to "Too Late Now" is followed by Brown's expertly bowed rendering of the melody, with the pianist providing highly sympathetic support and Most lithely handling the bridge. Alexander's extravagant solo is full of sleek arpeggios and other flourishes, but exudes a great deal of warmth as well. Most's concise improvisation grabs the listener's attention from its very first notes (as does Alexander's superb comping), playing his flawlessly executed runs and tricky, creative phrasing with an appealingly breathy tone. His overall command cannot be questioned, and reveals all you need to know about the reason for his high status amongst all jazz flutists. Search out the rare Xanadu releases, if you can, for further confirmation.
Reviewer: Scott Albin