Burrell’s heyday was in the fifties and sixties when he played with John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Jimmy Smith and Oscar Peterson among many others, but his only release for CTI proved that he still had it in 1971. That it is two things, tone and groove, yet what strikes you with the opener ‘Be Yourself’ is his understatement. Rarely has an album’s first track seemed more at odds with the cover art, there is no hint of shock or awe, just sublime playing over subtle backing. Among others the band features bassist Ron Carter, Freddie Hubbard’s trumpet, Billy Cobham in unusually restrained form on drums and Hubert Laws’ flute, so a classy line-up. Orchestration is arranged by Don Sebesky who does a fine job of enhancing results with nuance rather than broad strokes, a statement that effectively sums up the album as a whole.
Its most intense moments are on ‘Love Is The Answer’ where Burrell ratchets up the groove to excellent effect. The all star backing is good but never as good as the lead, a fact made clear by the title track which is a mellow peach with just enough edge, it’s immaculate but not stoned. As ever Pure Pleasure has done an excellent job of the mastering and pressing of this album, one that does full justice to Rudy van Gelder’s original recording as well as the artistry of the musicians at work.