Open Horizon

Steeplechase Records (1975) Looking Ahead
Listen & Buy

Track listing: Sister Precious; Don't I; Daybreak; Puunti; Open Horizon; Jawne; Sendai; Bee Pod

Personnel: Makanda Ken McIntyre: flute, oboe, bassoon, alto saxophone; Kenny Drew: piano; Buster Williams: bass; Andrei Strobert: drums

Review by Mark Gardner
September, 1976 - Jazz Journal

Here is a refreshingly different album from a talented multi-instrumentalist and composer who, some readers will recall, made some intriguing sides for United Artists and Prestige in the early 1960's. This is Mr. McIntyre's third release for Steeplechase but I must confess to not having yet heard the other two. No matter, for this is enough to be going on with.

McIntyre is a musician with a lot of originality. His vocal tone and the serpentine shapes of his improvisations are wholly personal. Apart from Illinois Jacquet, I can't offhand think of anyone who has produced interesting jazz solos on the bassoon but listen to the sinewy lines McIntyre fashions on it in Don't I, a melody with the unusual length of 35 bars.

There is nothing 'difficult' about McIntyre's music, which is not to suggest it is easy listening. It benefits from being orthodox, although when you get down to cases it has roots and isn't so very far out. For that reason it is, perhaps, a pity that Ken's interesting sleeve note essay about 'Contemporary African-American Music' may serve to deter some listeners from venturing into this record. Heavy preaching may be hard to swallow for those McIntyre seeks to convert. But if they just listened to the Caribbean flavour of, say, Sister Precious and Puunti, he would have them won over immediately.

I particularly enjoy his abrasive alto playing on Sister Precious and his attractive flute offering on Puunti. The title track is probably the hardest performance to assimilate. It does tend to sound like four guys tuning up, despite Ken's detailed musical explanation of what is going on. Jawne is another piece of offbeat construction (25 bars long) but it contains some fleet alto and an excellent bass solo by Williams. The rhythm section, by the way, performs splendidly throughout.

McIntyre is a strong rhythmic player (Jawne) and he is also capable of putting his best bebop foot forward (Bee Pod). He is a composer of considerable ability as this enjoyable LP amply demonstrates. Personally, I'm quite happy to dispense with the 'Kontemporary African-American Music' tag and simply accept this as the good music it undoubtedly is.

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