For a short time during 1956-58, tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse
and Julius Watkins (the wizard of the jazz French horn) teamed up to form a regular quintet that they named Les Jazz Modes
. Their first three (and best) records have been reissued on this two-CD set. In addition to the co-leaders, the group featured pianist Gildo Mahones
, a variety of bassists and drummers, guest appearances by Chino Pozo on congas (not Chano Pozo as listed on the back cover) and (on five numbers) the out-of-place classical soprano voice of Eileen Gilbert
. In general the music is hard bop of the period but it does give one a good chance to hear Watkins really stretching out. The tenor-French horn frontline does sound a bit unusual but they blend together quite nicely on the ensembles. This reissue is well worth investigating.