Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lin Halliday, A Tragically Underappreciated Tenorman

Lin Halliday played the hell out of the tenor sax. He passed away in 2000, after a career that, because of health problems and an erratic lifestyle, had many downs and a few ups. His first recording under his own name took place when he was 55 years old! He had some important associations before that (with Maynard Ferguson, for example) but never managed to keep his business together long enough to gain the exposure he deserved. Until he moved to Chicago in 1980 and began working regularly there.

By the time of his (I believe) fourth recording, Where Or When (Delmark), issued in 1993, things really seemed to be coming together for him, at least judging by the evidence of this recording. But bad health in the end prevailed.

The album at hand is a goodie. It brings Lin together with bop stalwart Ira Sullivan on trumpet and tenor, the great Jodie Christian on piano, and a good rhythm team of Larry Gray and Robert Barry, bass and drums, respectively.

Halliday was a tenor in the robust tradition of Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon, and he is in great form on Where Or When. This is a freewheeling session of jazz and American songbook standards, done with elan. It makes you wonder how far he could have gone had circumstances permitted. He certainly had all the talent and tools to make a big name for himself. But it wasn't to be. Check out this album and you'll hear why we should not forget him.

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