Swingin’ Party was recorded at Contemporary’s studio in from of a live audience (one can only wonder, given how many sessions were recorded there at this time, who might have been present). The reason for this is obvious; the setting combines the energy and spontaneity of a live performance with the pristine sound of the studio. Kessel’s style, as always, is a potpourri of bent notes and pull-offs, all cleanly articulated and full of unexpected phrases. Like a gracious host, Kessel lets the others have a turn in the spotlight as well; surprisingly, Peacock shows little of the abstract plucking that would later become his defining trait. The first few tracks are adequate runs through standards; however, the quartet gets more adventurous on the second half, which features “Now’s the Time” recast in a minor key, the soulful punch of “Miss Memphis”, and the Latin and Middle Eastern tinged “New Rhumba”. Kessel’s trio recordings are still his most compelling work, but Swingin’ Party works hard to live up to its name.
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