The post-Clifford Brown quintet that drummer Max Roach led tends to get overlooked, but it actually ranked up there with the Jazz Messengers and the Horace Silver Quintet in the late '50s. With tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins becoming a stronger soloist month by month (he was arguably the top tenor in jazz at the time) and veteran trumpeter Kenny Dorham in prime form, Roach was able to stretch himself; the obscure pianist Billy Wallace and bassist George Morrow completed the group. On this LP, Roach explores six songs in waltz time, an innovation for the period (predating Dave Brubeck's recording of "Take Five" by two years). Roach contributed two originals and the group played 3/4 versions of three standards, but it was Rollins' "Valse Hot" (which clocks in on this Mercury album at over 14 minutes in length) that was the hit of the date. These excellent performances show that jazz does not always have to be in 4/4 time in order to swing.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow