Jamaican-born trumpeter Dizzy Reece may not have led many sessions during his heyday, but he certainly made the most out of the few he did. Asia Minor
may have been his finest, featuring solid contributions from his tight-knit all star sextet and strong compositions from the leader. Reece’s "The Shadow of Kahn" swings briskly, the syncopated minor melody tip-toeing around Persip’s insistent brush work. Reece jumps in confidently, balancing his fluid, minor-tinged lines with what are at first unexpected resolutions in the relative major tonality. All of the soloists follow suit (the major/minor concurrence at the beginning of Payne’s solo is especially notable), and as the group progresses through the blowing section these major resolutions become more clearly defined and anticipated; by the end the reemergence of the minor melody comes at a surprise. Payne’s airy but muscular baritone solo is the highlight, Farrell takes two exciting choruses on what was his small-group recording debut, and Carter and Jones are as consistent as ever.
Ska was heavily influenced by American jazz and R&B, and Roland Alphonso brought a coolness and sophistication to many ska sessions in the mid-1960s. I listened to a lot of ska back in high school, at a time in my life when I had not heard much jazz. So you could say that in a roundabout way, it was through Roland Alphonso that I was first exposed to some of the concepts and sounds of jazz saxophone.
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