Various Artists

Aurex Jazz Festival '81: Live Special

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This Japanese LP compilation is made of selections from a group of jazz all-stars who toured Japan in the summer of 1981, mixing swing, cool, bop, and fusion on the same album. The personnel for Lionel Hampton's big band isn't listed in English, though "Valve Job" features strong solos by a trio of trombonists (Ed Neumeister, Garnett Brown, and Buster Cooper), with the leader taking a back seat. But he's back to the forefront, while also adding clarinetist Woody Herman for a rousing performance of Herman's signature tune, "At the Woodchopper's Ball." Gerry Mulligan and Bob Brookmeyer are reunited for an all too brief performance of Mulligan's swaggering classic "Walkin' Shoes," powered by a potent rhythm section (Ray Brown and Art Blakey). Freddie Hubbard, Milt Jackson, Stan Getz, and Roland Hanna are added to the group for a spirited rendition of "Woody'n You," though the initial ensemble chorus has some rough spots. Hank Jones leads the Great Jazz Trio through a delightful take of "Autumn Leaves," with Eddie Gomez and Buddy Williams joining him. Art Farmer, Benny Golson, and Nancy Wilson walk on to accompany the trio through a swinging "I Get a Kick Out of You." Sadly, the fusion tracks featuring flutist Hubert Laws stick out like a sore thumb in this collection. Drummer Leon Ndugu Chancler's "Give Your Love" is a monotonous, uninspired funk riff that goes nowhere, while Stevie Wonder's "All I Do," which adds vocalist Eloise Laws, is little more than pop. Without these two weak tracks, this LP would have rated considerably higher.

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