1 - Down San Diego Way
2 - Lenox Avenue Breakdown
3 - Slidin' Through
4 - Odessa
In addition to having excellent cover art, Lenox Avenue Breakdown is also a dynamic, unjustly overlooked jazz album. Prodigiously talented as an instrumentalist and composer, alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe was one of the most innovative jazz musicians of the 1970s and '80s, and LENOX AVENUE BREAKDOWN, his Columbia Records debut, proves it.
Blythe's ability to marry the best of the genre's traditions (he is equally versed in swing, post-bop, and romantic styles) with his avant-garde leanings is evident here. "Odessa," for example, a modal exploration, begins melodically, yet pushes further into free-jazz territory as the tune progresses. The angular bop of the title track is offset by adventurous soloing and unique instrumentation (flute and tuba add to the sonic palette here, along with guitarist James "Blood" Ulmer and drummer Jack DeJohnette). Blythe also knows how to keep things groovy, as the Latin-infused "Down San Diego Way" shows, with its interlocking webs of percussion. This is challenging, engaging jazz of the first order that still sounds fresh decades after its release.
Recorded at Mediasound Studios, New York, New York. Originally released on Columbia (35638). Includes liner notes by Stanley Crouch.
Personnel: Arthur Blythe (alto saxophone); James Blood Ulmer (guitar), Cecil McBee (bass); James Newton (flute); Bob Stewart (tuba); Jack DeJohnette (drums); Guilherme Franco (percussion).