Trombonist Jimmy Cleveland made a series of outstanding LPs for Emarcy and Mercury during the 1950s, most of which have been long unavailable. This album features Cleveland leading an octet with trumpeter Ray Copeland, flügelhornist Ernie Royal, tenor saxophonist Jerome Richardson, tuba player Don Butterfield, pianist Junior Mance, bassist Bill Crow (who is inexplicably omitted from the album's credits), and drummer Art Taylor, playing Ernie Wilkins' arrangements. The swinging opener spiritual "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" is followed by a loping but lovely treatment of "A Hundred Years From Today," featuring the leader's solid lower register, with Richardson switching to flute to lighten the background ensemble. The brief but potent performance of J.J. Johnson's "Jay Bird" gives listeners an opportunity to hear Cleveland's fluid style at faster tempos, while Mance also shines as a soloist. Wilkins' scoring of "Stardust" is also an effective showcase for Cleveland. Wilkins' loping closer gives all of the horns, along with Richardson on flute, to take turns in the spotlight. Long out of print, this collectable LP is well worth tracking down.
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