The most awesome, the most swinging rhythm group of all times! Fantastic winds! There’s only one guy who can make an alto saxophone sound like this – somewhere between melancholy and aggressiveness! Superlative after superlative come to mind when you listen to these nine numbers, which were recorded at the end of the Fifties.
The idea of scaling down Ellington’s band for jam-session-like numbers is absolutely genial because it offers soloists great opportunities to display their artistry. And these wind musicians are the best of the best, masters of their instruments. We have Roy Eldridge, who influenced the transition from swing to be-bop and a modern style of trumpet playing; Harry Edison, whose light and airy Basie-swing style cannot be denied; and Ben Webster, who amalgamates both the Count’s and the Duke’s style of swing. And then there is Johnny 'The Rabbit' Hodges, whose natural feeling for rhythm and gentle tone is brought to optimal expression within this concept.
"Squeeze Me" and "Stompy Jones" both stem from the Forties and are often performed, but in this session they have been rejuvenated in a masterly fashion. The standard "Let’s Fall In Love" demonstrates Lawrence Brown’s highly personal sound on the trombone and then goes on to spotlight Roy Eldridge and Johnny Hodges, both of whom prove that they are at the very zenith of their artistic prowess. "Ruint" and "Going Up" provide a showcase for Johnny Hodges, while "Just A Memory" focuses on the gentle, sometimes rather sentimental sound of Ben Webster.
Just as exceptional is the recording quality of this LP. Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the two sessions, the reissue offers a excellent opportunity to pay homage to the Verve recording engineers.