Joe Gordon did not live long, only making it to 35. His second of two recordings as a leader (originally released by Contemporary) finds him on the verge of leading his own group. Gordon wrote all eight of the selections and is joined by adventurous but obscure altoist Jimmy Woods, pianist Dick Whittington, bassist Jimmy Bond, and drummer Milt Turner. Although the solos are generally more memorable than the tunes, this is an excellent effort that hints at what might have been had Joe Gordon lived.
When Lester Koenig produced Burning Spirits for Contemporary in 1970, jazz was moving in many different directions. Commercially, jazz had lost a lot of ground to rock and R&B, but creatively, it was incredibly healthy and offered a wide variety of options – everything from fusion, soul-jazz, and funky organ combos to bossa nova, Afro-Cuban jazz, modal post-bop, cool jazz, and Dixieland revivalists. Sonny Simmons represented free jazz, which was considered jazz's lunatic fringe (certainly in bop circles) but was exciting and invigorating if you understood what was going on.