American and British counter-espionage combine to convince the Germans the cross-channel invasion will be in the Netherlands instead of France.
One of the tastiest concoctions of the mid-'70s jazz-fusion era, Chain Reaction finds the Crusaders at the top of their form. The compositions are both accessible and memorable, and the playing is uniformly excellent. Guitarist Larry Carlton delivers some of his finest licks and funkified rhythm work. Wayne Henderson shows there is a place in fusion for the trombone. Wilton Felder does double duty, delivering smoking saxophone lines and funky bass riffs. Joe Sample's Fender Rhodes piano provides a solid chordal foundation and great solos. And the stickman, Stix Hooper, keeps the groove solid. The band employs a variety of rhythms and tempos, and gives the members plenty of room to strut their individual and collective stuff. In fact, "collective" may be the key word here, for this is the sound of a band, not just a group of guys thrown together for a recording session. Chain Reaction was one of the albums that helped lure young, rock and soul-oriented listeners over to check out the jazz side, and should not be missed by those interested in the more accessible, funky side of fusion.
Producer Norman Granz occasionally got carried away with the quantity of his recording projects. In 1974 he recorded a full album teaming fellow pianists Count Basie and Oscar Peterson in a rhythm quintet; little did anyone realize that this then-unique matchup would eventually result in five albums. This first one, which finds Basie doubling on organ, is among the best. Peterson's virtuosic style somehow worked very well with Basie's sparse playing and these ten numbers really swing.
Four Parts Five, by composer and pianist Gordon Beeferman, is a quintet tour de force that takes virtuosic rhythmic ensemble playing to a new level. It’s a densely harmonious, frequently hair-raising, and deeply groovy piece of music: imagine György Ligeti, Philip Glass, Igor Stravinsky, Steve Coleman and Conlon Nancarrow having a dance party – with Morton Feldman and Count Basie watching wryly from the corner. New York-based Beeferman has created a diverse body of adventurous work spanning opera, orchestral, chamber, and vocal music, avant-jazz, free improvisation, and collaborations with dance and other arts.