A hip hootenanny from vibist Terry Gibbs – hardly the folksy set you might guess from the title, and instead a lively batch of small combo tunes that grooves better than most of Gibbs' work from the 60s! Most tracks are of traditional origin – folk tunes, if you will – but the jazz inflections of the group quickly takes them bast their roots, using the core melodies mostly as a framework for improvisation – featuring great vibes from Gibbs, plus tenor and flute from Al Epstein, guitar from Jimmy Raney, and piano from Alicir McLeod. Terry's vibes are nice and bold, and titles include "Michael", "Joshua", "John Henry", "Greensleeves", "Tom Dooley", and "Sam Hall".
Experimental at the time, this is a difficult listen years later. Recorded live at the 1970 Montreux Jazz Festival, this album features some challenging compositions by pianist Mike Nock. Violinist Michael White shows why he was a potential star, but this heavily electrified jazz is too abstract for most. The Fourth Way was a pioneering jazz-rock fusion group formed in the late 60s, before the horizons of the genre narrowed, and fusion became a perjorative term. The group was formed in the heady days of the San Francisco music era, comprised of pianist Mike Nock and violinist Michael White (both from the John Handy group), with bassist Ron McLure (from the Charles Lloyd quartet) and drummer Eddie Marshall.
Spectacular playing by Higgins accompanied and backed by Jay Leonhart on bass and Mark Taylor on drums. I will confess that my favorite drummer who was frequently a member of Higgins' trios was Joe Ascione, but Taylor is perfect on this album. If you are a Higgins fan, then you are probably familiar with Leonhart who is almost telepathically connected to Higgins.