Multi-reedman Anthony Ortega enjoyed stints performing with the Lionel Hampton and Don Ellis big bands, yet his solo activities have been scattered throughout several decades. This reissue denotes two sessions recorded in 1966 and 1967, featuring the saxophonist performing within duet and trio settings. As these outings were originally released on two LPs for the "Revelation" label.
The slightly echoing sonic qualities of this affair produces a radiant aura. As the brisk rhythms coupled with Ortega’s effortlessly executed improvisations, generate somewhat of a sacred framework. On the opener, "New Dance I + II," the saxophonist mixes it up with drummer Bill Goodwin and bassist Bobby West for a piece consisting of bluesy melodies and subtle shifts in direction. Furthermore, Ortega’s richly thematic lyricism and free-flight inclinations convey a sense of mysticism. Pieces such as "Conversation Piece," and three others feature the saxophonist performing duets with bassist Chuck Domanico. With that, the program is balanced out with four trio-based works. Simply put, the music is awash with soul stirring sentiment, amid soft lines and wraithlike dreamscapes. Ortega bridges the classic sax sounds of yore with a modernist’s approach. He’s a superb technician, but there’s a profoundly constructed musical climate presented here, that speaks for itself. No doubt about it!