Though not as relentlessly funky as his classic Blue Note debut Two Headed Freap, On the Avenue remains the most accomplished record of Ronnie Foster's career, proving commercial aspirations and accoutrements can indeed co-exist alongside traditional jazz sensibilities. Produced by George Benson and featuring the great Phil Upchurch on guitar and Marvin Chapell on drums, On the Avenue favors more mellow, nuanced grooves over the blistering funk of previous Foster outings. The velvety opener "Serenade to a Rock" and the title cut both draw heavily on Stevie Wonder's classic mid-'70s recordings, with a lithe cover of the Innervisions track "Golden Lady" further underlining the influence. Foster also expands his palette to include Afro-Cuban sounds ("Big Farm Boy Goes to a Latin City") and even assumes vocal duties for the first time on LP with "To See a Smile." Best of all is his rendition of Freddie Hubbard's "First Light"; arguably Foster's purest and most potent performance to date.
Easily the most hard-hitting of Blue Note's 2LP Lighthouse Live series from the early 70s – and a record that really lets Elvin Jones and his group stretch out and play! The setting is a perfect one for Jones – given the boundless energy already present on his studio sessions for Blue Note at the time – really fierce work that goes beyond even his classic Coltrane performances – pushing the limits in a sweet blend of rhythm and reeds! The group here is Elvin's razor-edge combo from the early 70s – the one that features Gene Perla on fat funky bass, and both Steve Grossman and Dave Liebman playing choppy reeds along with the grooves – really amazing hornmen at this point in their career, blowing here with interplay that's simply fantastic!