This edition of the Aurex Jazz Festival series comes from a group of concerts recorded in Japan during September 1980, featuring Dizzy Gillespie, a trio of tenor saxophonists (Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Harold Land, and Illinois Jacquet), and an outstanding rhythm section consisting of Cedar Walton, Eddie Gomez, and Shelly Manne, with the addition of vibraphonist Cal Tjader on some tracks. The album title Battle of the Horns is somewhat misleading, as this isn't a Jazz at the Philharmonic-type concert with the four horns trading licks, but mostly individual highlights spotlighting one artist at a time. The opening cut features Dizzy and the rhythm section on yet another exciting take of his landmark composition "A Night in Tunisia"; his chops also hold up very well on his timeless ballad "Con Alma." Land's feature is "The Peacemaker," an original that is enjoyable though not very memorable. Davis is more impressive with his interpretation of "I Can't Get Started," weaving in and out of Walton's exquisite accompaniment. Tjader and the rhythm section go it alone on a waltzing "Tangerine," then the vibes player drops out as Walton takes center stage for a strutting rendition of John Lewis' "Django." It is only on the final track, a rousing "Lover, Come Back to Me," that all eight musicians are heard together. Like other releases by Eastwind in the Aurex Jazz Festival series, the sound quality is first-rate, though the liner notes are indecipherable unless the listener is fluent in Japanese. This out of print LP will be somewhat challenging to locate but worth the search.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden