Charlie Ventura originally gained fame as Gene Krupa's extroverted tenor saxophonist in 1945, featured on "Dark Eyes." His "Bop for the People" orchestra gained some recognition in the late 1940s, but in the '50s, he more often performed with a quartet/quintet as the only horn. This 1998 CD reissue finds Ventura switching between tenor, alto, baritone and bass saxophones while joined by the young Dave McKenna on piano, guitarist Billy Bean, bassist Richard Davis and drummer Mousey Alexander. Ventura performs ten veteran standards, which range from "I've Got You Under My Skin" and a remake of "Dark Eyes" to "Bill Bailey" and "The Saints," although none of the music would really be considered Dixieland. The CD also has two added alternate takes, but two songs on the original Tops LP ("Paper Moon" and "Harvest Moon") have been left off, and the playing time is a very chintzy 34 minutes. Good music, but not enough of it.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow