The songs of Richard Rodgers and Larry Hart are, of course, right at the core of the improvising musician's nervous system -- and so Fantasy's massive archives contain acres of material by the first R&H team with a galaxy of jazz stars. Trouble is, some on the staggeringly distinguished list of talent here are caught on off-days, and that makes for surprisingly tedious listening in stretches. To wit, we have Miles Davis from his heroin period listlessly surveying "Blue Room" in his first session for Prestige (1951), Jug Ammons in a lazy mood for "Little Girl Blue," and Joe Pass' strength audibly ebbing in his solo "Blue Moon" on acoustic guitar. On the plus side, Art Tatum can be heard rippling out "Isn't It Romantic" with a trio; Stan Getz is A-OK with "There's a Small Hotel" despite the poor 1950 sound; Benny Carter is full of lusty vigor with Earl Hines and Shelly Manne powering him on "Thou Swell"; and a swinging Bill Evans can be found doing "My Heart Stood Still." Also heard in various states of form are Chet Baker, McCoy Tyner with Stephane Grappelli, Milt Jackson, Gerry Mulligan, Red Garland, Wes Montgomery, Mal Waldron, Barney Kessel, Hampton Hawes and Oscar Peterson. Fanatics alert: everything here has been issued on CD already.
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell