[20 February 2008]
Sonny Fortune is an alto saxophonist with a rich legacy as both a vinegar-toned hard-bopper and a metal slicing member of Miles Davis’s last pre-retirement electric band. This aura of versatility (he also plays the soprano and the flute with equal verve) has not, however, earned him one of those late-career jazz renaissances on a major label. He deserves one. You and the Night and the Music is a red meat quartet date featuring George Cables’ piano, Chip Jackson on bass, and drummer Steve Johns. While the group plays only two originals (one by Fortune from his 1970s disc Awakening and one by Cables), there is plenty of invention to keep you digging these masters. “Round Midnight” is a set piece for Fortune’s highly original flute voice, while “Besame Mucho” is given funky soul groove. Throughout, Fortune demonstrates plainly that his ripe tone is fully intact and his phrasing continues to bite. A favorite here is “Charade”, a Henry Mancini tune that jazz musicians don’t play often, here given a strong bass line as underpinning and played by Fortune’s particularly articulate and unique soprano saxophone. Sonny Fortune still plays with an edge of excitement, which is in full sway here.