Co-founder of the World Saxophone Quartet and member of the influential Black Artists Group, Oliver Lake is, along with Arthur Blythe, one of the most dynamic and influential exponents of the alto saxophone to have emerged from the late-1960s slipstream of the McLeans, Browns and above all Dolphys. His tone is tough and stocky, and his phrasing a worthwhile mix of expansive eloquence and sharp, pithy economy, where one note, when Lake is really on form, becomes the statement rather than the culmination thereof. Stylistically, Lake has always been extremely broad and this 7-disc collection, starting with 1976’s Holding Together and ending with 1997’s A New Organization, emphasises how restlessly curious he has been over the years. He fully embraces abstraction, where the focus on timbre is acute, as well as a more clearly defined rhythmic-melodic base in which strong themes and grooves are the order of the day. It is when these two approaches entwine that Lake hits his creative peak, and while a term such as ‘freebop’ is not entirely appropriate to sum up what he does, the blend of tense, dissonant chords and bright, jaunty swing makes 1993’s a must-hear. That album features one of the best quartets that Lake has ever led – Andrew Cyrille on drums, Reggie Workman on bass, and Charles Eubanks on piano – and attests to his ability to assemble the right blend of personalities in an ensemble. Having said that the 1984 Expandable Language quintet, featuring young turks Geri Allen and Kevin Eubanks, was also a fine group that should have recorded more. Regardless, this collection is a worthwhile reminder that Lake’s studio work has been of a sufficiently high quality for him to be considered an artist of genuine stature.