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I never heard of this jazz sax player until I came across this CD in a local library. That branch is fairly new and someone with extensive knowledge of jazz ordered the CDs. I was amazed at the wonderful sound Frank Strozier has on these two albums reissued as one. I can't stop listening to it over and over! From the early 60's when jazz was on the decline in popularity after bebop went to extremes often leaving behind melody and lyricism. I was not familiar with "hard bop" - a not quite accurate term. After researching, I found it was a label applied to East coast jazz that incorporated blues, r&b and church music. Whatever it is called - this album is definitely bluesy while staying with the bebop style. Frank's playing is fresh even after 50 years, as is that of his great side men - different between the albums except for Bill Lee on bass. And, Frank not only plays great alto sax but also flute on three cuts - my favorite being "The Crystal Ball" with the two flutes leading into a beautiful piece. Almost every cut is "great" and all are interesting musically. Amazing that this guy never "made it". This CD is fast moving into my top 5 alltime favorite jazz albums.
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This Frank Strozier Milestone title actually features two classic albums, originally made for the Jazzland label, on one CD -- "Long Night" from September 12, 1961 and "March of the Siamese Children" from March 28, 1962, both featuring talented yet lesser known sidemen. The best known musicians here are tenor saxophonist George Coleman, who did go on to play with Miles a few years after these dates, Harold Mabern and Bill Lee, yes, the father of Spike. The music is delightful and modern, and of all the remaindered Fantasy/OJC titles that I have picked up in the past two years, I would put this two-fer in the Top 10 of my most pleasant surprises. Jazz fans, it'll be a "Long Night" if you miss out on this one!