Hep Records' issue of Buddy DeFranco's recordings as a leader of both a quintet and an orchestra between 1949 and 1952 is a welcome one. The material on these 26 cuts is standard fare from the swing era, which was way over by 1949, but it proves that DeFranco knew how to lead a big band and swing hard as a soloist in a quintet setting -- especially with the company he kept. Some of his crew on these sides include Serge Chaloff, Teddy Charles, Teddy Kotick, Lee Konitz, Max Roach, Jimmy Raney, and Al Cohn, just to name a few. Arrangements for these tunes were done by DeFranco, George Russell, and Manny Albam, which gives the listener a taste of the varied sonic interests of the great clarinetist. The sound on these sides is a tiny bit thin, but that's a minor complaint. The material swings no matter the arrangement or the size of the band. This is an intimate look at an often overlooked jazz great.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek