Tate was with Basie in the early days but has many dates to his own name and was a leader whose career lasted well into the '90s. His sound on The Texas Twister is large and assured, with occasional wailing outbursts, but it's less assertive than some other horns associated with the Count, like Eddie Davis or Illinois Jacquet. And I like that, too. But the music on Twister swings close to the Basie band in more ways than
one. To start with, there's the addition of Paul Quinchette on tenor. The first number "The Texas Twister" is an uptempo 32-bar intro
to the proceedings that showcases both horns (Tate on the left,
Quinchette on the right), and has game piano work by Cliff Smalls. I thought it could easily go a few more rounds but the leaders opted to be concise and it's off to the next tune once the front line gets back to the head. Further in the Basie vein of blues-based small group swing, we also get Tate singing a la Jimmy Rushing in several cuts, including two installments of "Take Me Back Baby" that showcase Tate's sweet vocal and the impact of opposed horns. The arrangements feature some expected dueling, a mature and more relaxed but no less exciting form of the stylistic counterpoint from the old days. It happens between Tate and Cliff Smalls, too, as in "Talk of the Town." Tate opens the tune in a whispering voice that is soon hammered by Smalls' angular piano statements directly on top of the beat. Tate returns to state his piece every bit as eloquently and reserved as before, endowing the ballad with some very poignant sensibilities. Tate also plays clarinet, on "Chicago" and the closer "Gee Baby," adding further depth to the quintet. It's a good session and thoroughly enjoyable listen with a few hidden surprises.