This release, one might suspect, is a tribute to Norman Granz, who died late last year. A tireless promoter of jazz, one of Granz’s first projects was the Jazz at the Philharmonic series, which successfully presented jazz to a more cultured audience. Although criticized by some as vaudeville for pandering to the masses, the concerts were often a chance to see veterans and younger players who otherwise might never have played together. The song selection isn’t all that challenging, reflecting the lack of rehearsal time, but the performances are nevertheless crisp and energetic and often quite lengthy. It’s a treat to hear Navarro and Parker with West-coasters Brown and Manne, who had yet to establish themselves as significant figures on the scene. Criss certainly doesn’t embarrass himself either, working eagerly to match Parker’s proficiency. The second half features a quintet with Hawkins and Navarro in a more intimate setting; “Sophisticated Lady” is quite lovely and features some wonderful phrasing from both hornmen. Many of these players met with an early demise and any recordings available by the likes of Navarro and Bird will likely be picked up by those in the know. This is a welcome reissue and a fitting tribute to one of the men who made jazz a serious force.
Track Listing: Leap Here, Indiana, Lover Come Back To Me, Rifftide, Sophisticated Lady, The Things We Did Last Summer, Stuffy.
Personnel: Charlie Parker, Sonny Criss-alto saxophone; Flip Phillips, Coleman Hawkins-tenor saxophone; Fats Navarro-trumpet; Tommy Turk-trombone; Hank Jones-piano; Ray Brown-bass; Shelley Manne-drums.