BILLBOARD – FEB 13, 1988
Mouzon drums and works a battery of synthesizers on this unassuming but well-played program of fusion pieces. Pianist Jeff Daniel stands out among a notable group of sidemen that includes Ernie Watts, Brandon Fields, and Ronnie Laws.
CASH BOX – FEB 1988
Veteran fusion drummer and a number of high-ticket friends (Ernie Watts, Brandon Fields, Ronnie Laws) in a tight album of, mainly, acoustic fusion.
RHYTHM – MAY 1988 (Condensed)
With Early Spring Mouzon has brought it all together and made an album which has some vocals, some pop, some new age, while retaining a consistency of powerful drumming. On the standard, “Seven Steps to Heaven” he duets with Ernie Watts, adding a dimension to the Miles Davis / Victor Feldman arrangement I’ve never heard before. His snare sound is profound: not studio sweet but raw and frantic. His cymbals ring with the clarity of one who has been there, come back, and lived to tell the tale. His sense of melody is as strong as ever and he can still swing.
The original tunes by Mouzon feature decent keyboard work (from him), tasty acoustic piano from Jeff Daniel, and a right-on drum feel – whether the song is a ballad or more up-tempo. The final track, “Waterfall”, with Mouzon playing all the instruments is one of the purest attempts at new age from a fusion artist I’ve heard yet, with a simple melody on piano and synthesizer, relaxed but dynamically interesting drum work, and a lovely wordless vocal over the piano that evokes the “Cry” that Santana talks about when discussing great musicians.
THE R & B REPORT – JUNE 1988
With cuts featuring Ernie Watts, Ronnie Laws and Brandon Fields on Tenor, Soprano and Alto saxophones, respectively, Alphonse Mouzon has put together a delightful burst of seamless sounds and arrangements on this album that requires no gimmicks to sell. “Come And Fly With Me” provides a perfect sound mixture and conversation between sax, piano and percussion that pours out some challenging material, reflecting the musicians’ grasps of Jazz form. “The Lady In Red” is my favorite. It’s a mid-to-up-tempo production with Jeff Daniel’ s terrific piano chops, Ronnie Laws’ stylish soprano sax and Alphonse’s percussions, all blended together to provide a consistent and enjoyable Jazz dynamic. “Seven Steps To Heaven” has a quick-tempo, straight-ahead appeal with some daring improvisational twirls off sax and piano, with Alphonse’s drums grooving out that familiar and indispensable element of Jazz percussion and feeling. PDs get ready for this one!
THE MAC REPORT – APR 1988 (Condensed)
With his new album, Early Spring, Mouzon gives us the most completely satisfying recording of his career. The enigmatic musician shines as the LP’s producer, arranger, composer, drummer, and keyboardist all in one package. The jazz fusion music here sounds spontaneous and charms listeners of all musical persuasions.
Fresh and breezy characterizes the album’s title track, “Early Spring.” The song is infectious and energetic, especially because of soprano saxophonist Gary Meek’s delightful playing, Mouzon provides us with a wonderful improvised piano solo, on this track, that will pleasantly surprise those who weren’t aware of his proficiency on the ivories.
Alphonse’s accomplished keyboard talents sparkle on two particular tracks. On the exquisite jazz/soul piece “Alone In Paris”, which he composed at a piano in the lobby of a Parisian hotel, he displays remarkable sensitivity in his piano phrasing. Later in the album, Mouzon showers us with the intricate elegance of the jazz/New Age cut, “Waterfall.”
Featured throughout the album are three star saxophonists who are given the musical freedom by the producer, Mouzon, to make some of their most impressive recorded work to date. Listen to Ernie Watts’ breathtaking tenor sax on Alphonse’s “Come And Fly With Me.” On Miles Davis and Victor Feldman’s jazz classic “Seven Steps To Heaven,” Watts’ sax playing and Mouzon’s scintillating drum solo take us to the clouds in just two steps. Sample some of the magic alto man Brandon Fields weaves on the jazz/R&B ballad “We Almost Made It.” And check out Ronnie Laws’ soprano surprise on Mouzon’s jazz/funk gem “The Lady In Red.”
Early Spring stands as a high-water mark for the progressive talents of Alphonse Mouzon. With his mix of melodic ballads and upbeat jazz/fusion, Mouzon exhibits a marvelous sense for the public taste and an ability to cater to his multi-dimensional musical talent.
CASH BOX – 1988
One of the hottest drummers in any genre over the past two decades, Alphonse Mouzon, is riding the success of his most recent release Early Spring. The disc has risen all the way up to #14 with a bullet on the Cash Box Jazz Album chart, after only six weeks. Early Spring displays a range of material, from the accessible flair of “Early Spring,” the contemporary re-working of the classic “Seven Steps To Heaven,” the smoking grooves of “We Almost Made It” and “I Can Give You Love,” to the moving delicacy of “Alone in Paris” and “Waterfall.”