This compilation assembles some long unavailable bop sessions led by either Art Blakey or trumpeter Joe Gordon as a collectable Verve Elite Edition reissue CD. Blakey's quintet includes Gordon pianist Walter Bishop, Jr. and alto saxophonist Gigi Gryce, who composed most of the music. "Minority" has long since become a standard among boppers but "Salute To Birdland" is almost as good; the remaining tracks are quite as strong. Gordon's set leads off with Coleman Hawkins' well known riff tune "Rifftide; " Pianist Junior Mance provides Gordon with some strong backing and a young Charlie Rouse adds a spirited tenor sax solo. Gordon's playing is a little choppy on his tunes "Xochimilco" and "Evening Lights," while his lyrical take of "Body And Soul" is strangely backed by Blakey's tom toms. This is a mandatory acquisition for Blakey fans and those who enjoy bop.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden