The fourth and final Classics CD to reissue all of the studio recordings of the John Kirby Sextet features the band's very rare 1945-1946 performances, originally released by the Asch, Crown, Disc, and Apollo labels. The personnel of the classic unit had changed, with only the bassist/leader and clarinetist Buster Bailey still present on all of the numbers (although altoist Russell Procope and pianist Billy Kyle are on half the selections). Trumpeters Emmett Berry, Clarence Brererton, and George Taitt do their best to fill in for the departed Charlie Shavers; drummer Bill Beason was the late O'Neil Spencer's permanent replacement; other musicians making appearances include altoists George Johnson and Hilton Jefferson, tenor saxophonist Budd Johnson (who makes the sextet a septet on six songs), and pianists Ram Ramirez and Hank Jones. The young Sarah Vaughan is featured on four selections (including classic renditions of "You Go to My Head" and "It Might as Well Be Spring"), and the forgotten Shirley Moore takes two vocals. Although the group's sound had not changed and there are some colorful arrangements, Shavers' muted yet fiery trumpet was definitely missed. This valuable release is recommended after acquiring Kirby's first three Classics CDs.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow