On his Blue Note Records debut, With Love, Charles Tolliver presents his extraordinary big band charts and sui generis trumpet playing for the first time on a major U.S. label.
For the occasion, Tolliver recruited a pan-generational lineup of home-run hitter soloists including pianists Stanley Cowell and Robert Glasper, saxophonists Billy Harper, Craig Handy, and Howard Johnson, trumpeter Keyon Harrold, and a cohort of A-list section men, Cecil McBee and Victor Lewis, all of whom draw on all their resources to articulate Tolliver's vision with a bravura performance.
After hearing a reunion of the Tolliver-Cowell quartet in 2002, the trumpeter David Weiss decided to approach Tolliver about resurrecting his acclaimed big band. A fan of Tolliver's '70s big band records Music, Inc. And Big Band and Impact, both on Strata-East (an independent label founded by Tolliver and Cowell in 1970), Weiss provided the spark that brought the band back to life.
I told David the charts were collecting dust, Tolliver recalled. David said that perhaps he could interest some of the venues in New York. After several months, the Jazz Standard agreed to have me for a couple of nights, and it was successful.
Reviewing that September 2003 engagement, Gary Giddins wrote: [Tolliver's] trumpet retains much of its vigorous tone, diligent logic, and controlled fury. But his most powerful achievement is as a composer-conductor. At Jazz Standard, his dramatic semaphore directed intricate section work in long numbers with balanced pace, color tones, and excitement. This band deserves a permanent home.