It was 1966 when Mike Longo was playing in Manhattan. His trio at the time consisted of Paul Chambers on bass and Chuck Lampkin on drums. The trio became a house rhythm section there and during this period Mike played with such jazz greats as Frank Foster, Frank Wess, Clark Terry, Zoot Sims and the legendary Roy Eldridge. It was Roy who went around the corner to where Dizzy was playing and told Dizzy “you got to come by and hear this piano player who is playing with me.” Dizzy came by and heard Mike play a set with his trio and the next day hired him to be the new pianist with the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, a post Mike would remain in for the next nine years.
During his first year with Dizzy, Mike began writing material for the group and Dizzy eventually appointed him as his musical director. A close bond of friendship as well as musical collaborator developed between the two which lasted until Gillespie’s death in 1993.
Although Mike has led his own trio on and off for many years, this is his first solo effort on record. In trio and quintet context, Mike has assembled some of the finest rhythm players in jazz including Mickey Roker, Ron Carter, Sam Jones and Potato. Guitarist Al Gafa, whose sound is similar to George Freeman and the late Wes Montgomery, is less known, but in no way less talented.
The six tunes presented here provide a full range view of Mike Longo, the pianist and the composer. "Matrix" and "My San Francisco" are beautiful, rich ballads. "Let Me Out" best illustrates Longo's ability to just swing.
"Night Rider" is possibly his most poetic composition.
Some of these tunes were written for Dizzy's band, some specifically for this record, others were just written. This then is the music of Mike Longo.