Jazz at the Philharmonic

The Challenges

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1954 was Dizzy Gillespie's first year with Jazz at the Philharmonic and Norman Granz's decision to team the trumpeter with the competitive Roy Eldridge (his former idol) was both inspired and logical. On this LP (one of ten released by Polygram Classics in 1983), the sparks really fly as Diz and Eldridge are joined by the tenors of Ben Webster and Flip Phillips, trombonist Bill Harris, the Oscar Peterson Trio and drummer Louie Bellson; no weak spots in that lineup. Their 16-minute "Jazz Concert Blues" is quite exciting and a lengthy five-song ballad medley has its moments (Gillespie's abstract "Stardust" takes honors) but it is the trumpet battle on "The Challenge" that is most memorable. Until the timeless music is reissued on CD, this hard-to-find LP (JATP at its height) is essential.