Leonard Bernstein was an American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist. His music was an eclectic mix of theatre music, jazz and neoclassicism. This diverse Modern period composer created works in virtually all genres. As already stated, Bernstein was an eclectic composer whose music fused elements of jazz, theatre music and neoclassicism, the latter inspired by composers like Copland, Stravinsky, Milhaud, and Gershwin. Some of his works, especially his score for West Side Story, helped bridge the gap between classical and popular music.
At age 72, Cecil Payne makes a recorded comeback with this release. He sounds in fine form, playing with dexterity, clarity, and depth on baritone sax, and brings out his flute for two of the eight cuts. Six of the eight selections are his compositions. A mixed-generation band has old hands John Ore (bass) and the great Harold Mabern (piano) teamed with younger men Eric Alexander (tenor sax) and Joe Farnsworth (drums). Guest trumpeters Freddie Hubbard or Dr. Odies Williams III get cameos. As expected, this is a hard bop date, reflective of Payne's history with Dizzy Gillespie, J.J. Johnson, Tadd Dameron, and James Moody.
Freda Payne was a onetime flagship of Invictus, the label established by Motown mutineers Holland-Dozier-Holland. Though she only made three albums with the former Detroit hit machine, it was through the first two singles both artist and label became instantly known. Parting with Motown proved the right decision for HDH in their search for more creative recognition. Through Payne's "Unhooked Generation" and " "Band of Gold" they nurtured a newfound soul style. Combining the infectious rhythmic base of their earlier efforts with the Supremes and the Four Tops, HDH ventured into a more funk-oriented approach, with a little less emphasis on the familiar orchestration.