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.
Payne's Window offers further testament to unsung hero Cecil Payne's prowess on the baritone saxophone. Fronting a delightfully swinging sextet that includes pianist Harold Mabern and tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, Payne delivers a wonderful mixed bag of originals and standards. Window boasts a nonchalant attitude that allows the music to swing effortlessly. On Payne's humorous "James," Mabern improvises on what seems to be "Mary Had a Little Lamb" as Payne, Alexander, and trombonist Steve Davis punch in with swaggering riffs. Payne's impeccable rhythms are still intact, as on the Latin-tinged "Spiritus Parkus" and "Southside Samba," while tunes like "Lover Man" and "That's It Blues" are imbued with bluesy mellowness. Payne's Window is a no-frills record that rewards with each listening.
Live Risen Sun is a live album by the English-American progressive rock band Asia Featuring John Payne. It is the first release to use the name Asia featuring John Payne, a spinoff featuring the longtime Asia frontman formed after Downes's return to the original lineup. This is the last live recording with the pair before their split in early 2006.