Earl's Wind - 4.25
Peace With Myself - 9.36
Right Now - 5.50
Household Of Saud - 6.08
Lil's Paradise - 7.06
Paper Man - 6.10
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Charles Tolliver was initially giving a cornet by his grandmother, though he would make the switch to trumpet within a short time. Tolliver won the attention of critics with his inventive solos, superb articulation and ability to bridge post-bop and avant-garde, along with being an innovative composer. He made his recording debut with Jackie McLean in 1964, then appeared on albums by Booker Ervin, Horace Silver, Andrew Hill and Max Roach over the next few years. Tolliver’s recording debut, Paper Man, was recorded for Black Lion in 1968 and he formed his quartet Music, Inc. the following year. Tolliver co-founded the adventurous Strata-East record label in 1970 with pianist Stanley Cowell, while also appearing on dates led by Oliver Nelson and McCoy Tyner. Although his recording activity was diminished from 1976 to 1987, Tolliver was still very active as a performer, taking his band to Europe and South America in addition to playing in the U.S. He formed the Charles Tolliver Big Band, leading it in a performance of Hall Overton’s famous charts for Thelonious Monk’s landmark 1959 Town Hall concert to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, while also drawing rave reviews of his live big band recordings of his own compositions.
For his debut recording as a leader, Tolliver assembled a top drawer band. The rhythm section consists of Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Joe Chambers, with alto saxophonist Gary Bartz added on the final three songs, all of which are originals by the leader. “Earl’s World” is a brash, swaggering opener with a hip groove. Tolliver shares the spotlight with Hancock, the latter whose sound may be a bit hard to recognize due to the muddy sound of the piano, though his brilliant playing overshadows the instrument’s condition. “Peace With Myself” is a sauntering, lyrical waltz, while “Right Now” was debuted on Jackie McLean’s 1964 CD of the same name, though Tolliver was not present on that session. Powered by its tense, engaging theme and Carter’s inventive bass line, it is one of Tolliver’s signature compositions.
Bartz is added on the remaining songs. The brisk post-bop vehicle "Household of Saud" is dedicated to pianist McCoy Tyner and it is difficult not to invite comparison to Tyner’s writing style. Tolliver’s powerful, reaching solo is pushed by the driving rhythm section, while Bartz takes a different approach a more spacious approach in his solo. The rich horn unison introduces the exotic "Lil's Paradise," which has a bossa nova undercurrent. The intricate "Paper Man" is an infectious theme played over a 1960s hard bop/Latin groove, with Tolliver preaching the message on his effusive, soulful trumpet.