Review: The Journey - Charles McPherson 

By Miles Jordan 
03.26.15.
Now 75, alto saxophonist Charles McPherson had worked with pianist Barry Harris in Detroit before, at the age of 20, moving to New York City where he began working with Charles Mingus, with whom over the next 12 years he made a handful of records. He also made a batch of LPs as a leader for the Prestige and Mainstream labels during the 1960s and 1970s; however, since 1992 he's released just 10 CDs. Like almost every other alto player of the era, he was strongly influenced by Charlie Parker and even appeared on the soundtrack of Clint Eastwood's 1988 film Bird. He's back again with The Journey, accompanied by tenor saxophonist Keith Oxman, pianist Chip Stephens, bassist Ken Walker and drummer Todd Reid. McPherson shows that he's still got great chops as he blazes his way through his arrangement of Parker's “Au Privave” with Oxman hard on his heels. Great solos, too, from the rest of the group—especially Stephens, who's a joy on every track. McPherson slows things down a couple of times, most notably on a magnificent, relaxed duet with Stephens on “I Should Care.” Other tunes of note include a very spritely “Spring Is Here,” McPherson's own low key “Manhattan Nocturne” and Oxman's dreamy “Elena.”