Jerome Richardson has long been one of the most versatile of jazzmen, able to get a personal sound and to swing on flute, tenor, alto, soprano and baritone. For his quartet date with pianist Richard Wyands (who at this point often sounded like Red Garland), bassist George Tucker and drummer Charlie Persip, Richardson plays baritone on three songs (in a deep tone a little reminiscent of Pepper Adams and Leo Parker), two on tenor and one on flute.
The music on this disc comes from Rome in the middle seventeenth century, and it is seemingly, to use a word that recurs several times in the dense but informative booklet, paradoxical. Domenico Mazzocchi (1592-1665) was a composer who worked at the feet of popes. Yet the music here is stylistically of the sensuous seconda prattica, the operatic art of Monteverdi and his cohorts in the generation before. If the term "Counter Reformation" brings to mind music like Palestrina's, know that you get something very different here, something closer to the religious masterworks of Monteverdi's later career but on a more intimate scale.
Movie themes, along with songs from Broadway, have long been fodder for jazz musicians. This United Artists LP features Jerome Richardson leading his working quintet during a live engagement, though the venue is unidentified. The extended workout of Duke Jordan's "No Problem" (from the film Les Liaisons Dangereuses) showcases Richardson's robust baritone sax and Les Spann on flute, with the leader adding a tag at the end on piccolo. Richardson switches to tenor sax and Spann to guitar for a rather brisk arrangement of "Moon River." "Tonight" (from West Side Story) is a bit unusual in that it features both musicians on flute.