This album was born in the mind of Les McCann in the Summer of 1962 when he played for the first time with Paul Chambers during one of Les' engagements at the Watkins Hotel in Los Angeles. Something musically very special must have happened that night because Les called the next day to tell me that if it could be arranged he definitely wanted to do an album with Chambers. It was to be over a year before both Les and Paul were in Los Angeles again at the same time.
In the meantime, Les' original drummer Ron Jefferson who had gone to Europe with the trio decided he liked the living and the attitude on the continent, and shortly after the trio's return to the U.S., left it in San Francisco and moved to Europe. . . depriving the group of a very important member. Fortunately, Les was able to find, in San Francisco, Detroit-born Paul Humphrey to replace Jefferson. Les has been smiling with gratitude ever since. Good swinging drummers are scarce, and as the album clearly points out, Paul is one of the country's most consistent swinging drummers.
The trio is made a quartet here with the addition of Down Beat Critics Award winning (New Star Guitarist) Joe Pass. This collection is not the first time Pass and McCann have recorded together: they can be heard on "Out Front" (PJ-66) with tenor saxophonist Clifford Scott; on "On Time" (PJ-56) with the McCann Trio; and on "Something Special" (PJ-57) with Richard Holmes' organ and Clifford Scott's tenor. Additionally, Pass has been featured extensively on other Pacific Jazz albums including his own album "Catch Me!" (PJ-73). In spite of his powerful performances on other recordings and the widespread critical approval they have engendered, it is my opinion that this album contains the best Joe Pass on record.
As a matter of fact, quite apart from the excellent solos, the entire rhythm section is a joy to behold! Listen to Chambers; his ability to swing mightily with a group of players that (with the exception of McCann) he has never before played with is evidence that he is truly one of jazz' great musicians.
The material in the collection consists entirely of well known soul favorites. All have been single hits or title tunes from top selling jazz albums. No third stream material here, it's all solid root material that lends itself to the unique McCann treatment.
-- Richard Bock