Don Lanphere recorded in the late Forties with Fats Navarro and Max Roach, and his tenor sound is rooted in the note choices and approaches of that era - which sounds as if he would be much more remote than he actually is, since most "mainstream" jazz players of our day play the same way. Imagine, by the way, what might have happened at Minton's when Lanphere was a kid if someone had come in with a tenor sound copped from Coleman Hawkins records of the Twenties. Would he have been hailed as the great new thing?
But Lanphere, in any case, isn't copying anybody. He's playing in a way he perfected with strenuous work, and at this point in his life there is a mellow ease to his style, enabling him to achieve effects that are beyond the reach of most younger players. Here he surrounds himself with a guitarist and an organist and explores an R&B sound, without sacrificing any of the purity of his tone or the jazz inflection of his lines. Fox and McClure are able to keep up with the wily tenorman, and they certainly bring a greasy rhythm feel to the music, but Lanphere is still and always Lanphere; a sleek, even elegant improvisor, always genial, always relaxed and confident. Even when he picks up the soprano ("My Ship"), he achieves a rounded, rich sound not often heard on the straight horn.
Don Lanphere is worth hearing whenever, whatever, and with whomever he plays. This disc is no exception.