In the early 1960s, a time of significant upheaval in jazz, pianist Ronnie Mathews (b. 1935), tenor saxophonist Roland Alexander (b. 1935), and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard (b. 1938) were among the young lions on the roaringly competitive New York scene. None could be considered an avant-gardist (though Hubbard, who would be recognized as one of his generation's most brilliant soloists, had already recorded with John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Eric Dolphy), but all were clearly committed to expanding the bebop form. This set presents Mathews fronting his own group (on Doin' the Thang!, done in December 1963) and in a sideman's role (for Alexander's Pleasure Bent, from June 1961). Each was its leader's debut album; both are quintet sessions. Alexander, who has for all practical purposes vanished from public view, got to make just one more with his name above the title, while Mathews, whose talents as a supporting player have attracted such heavyweights as Max Roach, Roy Haynes, Dexter Gordon, and Johnny Griffin, remains active. Doin' the Thang! and Pleasure Bent (on which ex-Ray Charles trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, another underappreciated figure, also stands out) combine for a tuneful, altogether satisfying mix of advanced hard-bop originals and sublime standards.
with Charles Davis, Eddie Kahn, Albert "Tootie" Heath, Marcus Belgrave, Gene Taylor, Clarence "Scoby" Stroman