Some of Grant Green's hottest moments as a jazz-funk bandleader came on his live records of the era, which were filled with extended, smoking grooves and gritty ensemble interplay. Live at the Lighthouse makes a fine companion piece to the excellent Alive!, though there are some subtle differences which give the album its own distinct flavor. For starters, the average track length is even greater, with four of the six jams clocking in at over 12 minutes. That makes it easy to get lost in the grooves as the musicians ride and work them over.
The legendary Four Brothers reed section of Woody Herman's famous "Second Herd" big band of 1947, (Herbie Steward, Zoot Sims, Stan Getz and Serge Chaloff) is reimagined and reinvigorated by jazz icons Harry Allen, Eric Alexander, Grant Stewart and Gary Smulyan on the exciting, swinging and audacious recording of The Candy Men by Harry Allen's All Star New York Saxophone Band. Offering a sensational set of twelve bop-infused tunes containing some hard-driving, mid-tempo swing pieces to breathy and bossa-styled ballads, one sampling of this disc is just not enough. The material and the musicianship is so outstanding, that the late, great bandleader Woody Herman himself, would be proud of the way this group of jazz icons, has so elegantly represented the original Brothers section.
Anyone who remembers Eric Marienthal's work with Chick Corea's Elektric Band in the late '80s and early '90s knows how exciting an improviser he can be. This disc has its moments. Botti has an enjoyable spot on Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar," and "Love Don't Live Here" (one of the few tracks that isn't an instrumental) is a pleasant, if unremarkable, urban/adult contemporary item that features singer Deniece Williams. Also noteworthy is Lorber's funky "Hangin' on the Sidewalk," which finds Ford taking a gritty guitar solo.
After the guest-star-drenched No Reason to Cry failed to make much of an impact commercially, Eric Clapton returned to using his own band for Slowhand. The difference is substantial – where No Reason to Cry struggled hard to find the right tone, Slowhand opens with the relaxed, bluesy shuffle of J.J. Cale's "Cocaine" and sustains it throughout the course of the album…