The crucial difference between Hubert Laws and Roland Kirk as flautists is that the former had classical training and the latter didn’t.
Kirk made every effort to turn the flute into an effective jazz instrument, culminating in the often felicitous use of voice and flute in unison. Laws stayed with the pure tone of his classical past and relied on his accompaniments to add flavour.
The fact that the three albums collected here were recorded under the aegis of Creed Taylor unfortunately means that the backgrounds are often vacuous, relying on foot-tapping rhythms rather than musical substance or interest. Laws is undoubtedly a consummate musician but a lot of this music wouldn’t surprise you if it turned up when a telephone operator annoyingly put you on hold.
However, that comment is less applicable to the two longer and more ambitious tracks recorded at a Carnegie Hall concert with fewer musicians than the studio albums employed. Both Laws and Ron Carter are effective in this situation but two drummers were one too many and it’s probably Cobham who finds it difficult to refrain from a sustained and rather shapeless barrage. Bob James is also in action here and elsewhere to keep the Creed Taylor ambience alive and my interest moribund.
But, to end on a positive note, I’ll say that much of this music would be fine for fairly mindless dancing.
CD1: [Morning Star] (1) Morning Star; Let Her Go; Where Is The Love; No More; Amazing Grace; What Do You Think Of This World Now?; [Carnegie Hall] (2) Windows / Fire And Rain (72.01)
CD2: [The Chicago Theme] (3) The Chicago Theme; Midnight At The Oasis; You Make Me Feel Brand New; Going Home; I Had A Dream; Inflation Chaser (34.37)
(1) Laws (f) with Don Sebesky Orchestra. Van Gelder Studios, autumn 1972.
(2) Laws (f); Dave Friedman (vb); Bob James (p, elp); Gene Bertoncini (g); Ron Carter (b); Billy Cobham, Freddie Waits (d). Carnegie Hall, 12 January 1973.
(3) Laws (f) and others including Mike Brecker (ts); James (p); Joe Beck, George Benson or Eric Gale (g); Carter (b); Steve Gadd (d). Van Gelder Studios, 1975.
Beat Goes On CD 1347