Saxophonist Marshall Royal was widely regarded as a section player in the Count Basie band, with a sound influenced by Benny Carter or Johnny Hodges. Gordon Jenkins, arranger, conductor and pianist, admired his solo capabilities and initiated this recording project to showcase his seldom heard talents. The music, a mix of popular tunes and standards, is lushly orchestrated by Jenkins. A string section, choir, and guitar are all part of Jerkin’s sonic arsenal. Royal’s solos are all done tastefully and his tone is luxuriant, matching the orchestration. The twelve tracks are brief at 41 minutes and 55 seconds total. The music, however, is perfect for listening when in a mellow mood, and there’s plenty of variety to keep it interesting.
Everest were pioneers in stereo recording, and the first to market a stereo LP. They pioneered the process of recording on 35mm movie film, utilized in this recording. This is the same process Mercury also employed for their "Living Presence" series of LPs. The sound-stage is wide and deep, however, positioning of the instruments is limited to left, right or center. Clarity and signal to noise is superb. Everest touted their albums as the "pinnacle of achievement in recorded sound," and as you listen, you’ll agree it’s not marketing hyperbole.
The music is not Big Band or Hard-bop, but rather, as previously mentioned, orchestrated pop tunes and standards with Royal improvising solos within. This set will appeal to not only fans of ‘60s era jazz and popular music, but audiophiles as well. Highly recommended.