This disc begins with five excellent recordings that Earl Hines made for the Royal Jazz label in Paris. These joyous, optimistic trio renderings of "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Fine and Dandy" were part of a sizable bundle of great music recorded on November 4, 1949, the balance of which occupies the final eight tracks of Classics 1120. Two days later, Hines created three interesting piano solos for Royal: a relaxed revisit with Maceo Pinkard's old-fashioned love song "Sugar," a tough and powerful remake of "Boogie Woogie on the St. Louis Blues," and "Singing for My French Brothers," during which the pianist scats amiably. In July of 1950, Hines recorded eight outstanding trio performances to be issued on Columbia's newly developed long-playing 33-and-1/3-rpm format. The combination of Hines with bassist Al McKibbon and the impeccable J.C. Heard was remarkably fruitful. "These Foolish Things" seems to unfold as gradually as the dawn, "Velvet Moon" and "When I Dream of You" are slow and reflective, and the rest of this trio's work swings marvelously. "Diane" develops something like a Cuban rhythm halfway through, then prances the rest of the way home. In December of 1952 Hines was able to wax seven sides for the D'Oro label, which was created especially to record the Earl Hines Sextet, with a front line of trumpeter Jonah Jones, trombonist Bennie Green, and Aaron Sachs, who played clarinet and tenor sax. Vocalists heard here are Helen Merrill (this was her very first appearance on record), Lonnie Sattin (who bellows and croons like an Eckstine caricature), and a soulful Etta Jones (who has a lot of fun hollering "Stop"). Hines himself sings over a rhumba called "Ella's Fella," and "Whirl on a Whirl" also has a bit of that rhythmic Caribbean energy running through it. "Green's Corner" -- which in fact uses the bridge from "Love Is Just Around the Corner" -- is a friendly study for trumpet, tenor sax, and trombone with rhythm accompaniment, including brief solos from bassist Tommy Potter and Earl "Fatha" Hines.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf