Red Callender was a first-call bassist for studio sessions throughout his long career, and this rare opportunity to hear him as a leader features him exclusively on tuba, with the liner notes promoting the record as the first recording to feature it as the lead instrument. Whether or not this is true matters little, for Callender exploits the melodic possibilities of the tuba by playing it softly in an almost chamber jazz setting, though some critics might want to call this music cool jazz. The musicians, all of whom are first-rate, mesh well with the leader: Buddy Collette (who doubles on flute and clarinet), bassist Red Mitchell, drummer Bill Douglass (who joined Callender as a part of Art Tatum's rhythm section for his memorable sessions with Ben Webster and also Buddy DeFranco), guitarist Bob Bain, and either Vince DeRosa or Irving Rosenthal on French horn. The date primarily focuses on standards, including "A Foggy Day," "Speak Low," "Darn That Dream," and "Gone With the Wind," all of which are arranged by Callendar in imaginative, thoughtful settings. The soulful take of Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood" features Collette's lyrical flute; Collette also contributed "Nice Day," a perky original. Callender wrote the mellow ballad "Chris" for his young son. Long out of print on LP, this has thankfully been reissued on CD by the Fresh Sound label.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden