This live album also features Ronnie Matthews and Stafford James, pianist and bassist on Little Red’s Fantasy, as well as Rene McLean (son of Jackie McLean) on saxes and flute. Woody co-led a band with Louis Hayes for a part of 1977, but unfortunately the only recordings of this band are this live album and the studio album The Real Thing.
Two of Woody’s tunes open the album, In Case You Haven’t Heard and The Moontrane. Woody’s solo on The Moontrane is fantastic. The tempo is very fast and the harmony is complicated but Woody plays over it with ease, and with fantastic quaver articulation. My only criticism is that I think he plays too many choruses, by the end you can clearly hear that he is tired and running out of ideas. The next tune is Wayne Shorter’s Contemplation which is a feature for pianist Ronnie Matthews. The last two tunes are Jean-Marie by Matthews and Bilad As Sudan by McLean, and both tunes are strong throughout – McLean and Woody solo especially well on Bilad As Sudan.
The album does have its flaws, as any live album will have, but these are more than compensated for by the vast majority of playing which is inspired. Louis Hayes is a constantly driving force at the drums, propelling the soloists to explore new ideas. Unfortunately, Woody seems to have been recorded poorly and his sound is often quite distant and tinny (the rest of the band generally sound alright). However, this is only a small detraction from the overall high quality of this album.