Top critical review
on 20 July 2015
This is something of a novelty - a hard bop record fleshed out with choir. Until I snapped up this record, the only track I was familiar with was "Cristo Redentor" which is the stand out on the album and, to be honest, prompted my desire to want to hear the rest of the disc. It also helps that the album cover is rather iconic.
Blue Note rarely issued albums that could be considered to be poor but it is fair to say that few have aged quite so poorly as this disc. There are good points about this record (the show is stolen by the young Herbie Hancock on piano and vibes player Donald Best is surprisingly good) but as good as Byrd's playing is, the arrangements by Duke Pearson are a bit pedestrian by today's standards and the playing is sometimes a bit rugged. I admire the concept and feel a bit guilty about being curmudgeonly about this record but , once the novelty has worn off, this is essentially a rather ordinary hard bop session augmented by an average choir that sounds like it was shooed in from a 1950's B-movie. The band may be stellar, but only Hancock really shines and Kenny Burrell is limited to playing a bit part. I'm a bit on the fence about Hank Mobley as he can be compelling in a more challenging setting and then sound uninspired. On this disc, he is so-so.
In the hands of some of today's jazz composers, the writing for voices could have been more interesting. Duke Pearson was rather new to writing for voices and the arrangements are not too sophisticated. I've always felt Pearson was a bit of a journeyman and whilst you can admire Donald Byrd's vision, other than "Cristo Redentor", "A new Perspective" neither sounds "new" or entirely radical. Interesting but not an essential album, in my opinion.