In the mid-1950s, Lennie Niehaus avoided cliché, incorporated audacious harmonic ideas, and distilled the essentials of big band writing into arrangements for small groups. His recordings are still notable in the 21st century for their freshness and daring. In this fifth of his series of albums for the Contemporary label, Niehaus set himself the chamber music challenge of achieving proportion among four horns, bass, and drums, without piano to cushion the sound, delineate the harmonies, and unify the ensemble. The resultwas a collection of pieces performed with gem-like clarity by players who executed his writing perfectly and brought to their solos the creativity that made them star improvisers. Niehaus's alto saxophone playing was at its peak here. His quality was matched by Bill Perkins, Jimmy Giuffre, Stu Williamson, Shelly Manne, and the brilliant, underappreciated bassist Buddy Clark.
with Bill Perkins, Jimmy Giuffre, Stu Williamson, Buddy Clark, Shelly Manne
Recorded in Los Angeles; January 9, 11, and 12, 1956.