Recorded at Lennie's-on-the-Turnpike, West Peabody, MA in April 15, 1965
Jaki Byard on piano
Joe Farrell on alto and soprano saxophones & flute
George Tucker on bass
Alan Dawson on drums
1 Twelve [alternate take] (Byard) 10:12
2 Dolphy #1 (Byard) 9:05
3 After You've Gone/Strolling Along (Creamer, Layton) 4:21
4 St. Mark's Place Among the Sewers (Byard) 14:42
5 Dolphy #2 (Byard) 10:41
6 Ballad Medley: Tea for Two/Lover/Strolling Along/Cherokee (Byard, Caesar, Foster, Hart) 9:45
7 King David (Byard) 3:43
There's a good and bad side of releasing old material that's been buried in a record label's vault or someone's attic. If the material's solid, say a live date from an artist's prime, then it's a Godsend. If the material is weak, or repeats earlier releases in a weaker form, it does a disservice to the artist. Luckily for fans of pianist Jaki Byard, the quartet recordings on Last From Lennie's are bursting with creative energy. Taped on April 14, 1965, Byard is joined by saxophonist Joe Farrell, bassist George Tucker, and drummer Alan Dawson for an adventurous live set. With a couple exceptions — "After You've Gone/Strolling Along," and the obscure "King David" — everything here clocks in at over nine minutes, leaving plenty of space for the band to explore the far edges of each piece. There are eight- and nine-minute versions of "Dolphy," a kinetic, off-kilter ode that recalls, though never imitates, Charles Mingus, with whom both Byard and Dolphy had played. Farrell's solo work takes some uncharted turns here, with the rest of the band pushing him on as Byard shouts out directions. Finally, one wouldn't want to miss the nine-minute medley of "Tea for Two," "Lover," "Strolling Along," "Cherokee," and "Shiny Stockings," all played at a marvelously mad pace. The interplay between all partners also brings forth great things from Tucker and Dawson, topping off an intense, fiery set. Like all good vault releases, Last From Lennie's reminds listeners of just how good Byard and his bandmates were.
~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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