Joe Phillips

Battle of the Saxes

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This is not a "battle" in the sense that these two tough tenors stand toe to toe and slug it out. Rather, The American Recording Society has put together cuts from sessions Illinois Jacquet and Flip Phillips cut during the 1950s for one of Norman Granz's labels, either with their own groups or part of another's. Their failure to appear together does not mean that there isn't some serious blowing competition here. Jacquet and Roy Eldridge go at it fast and furious on "Achtung" and Jacquet goes head to head with Harry "Sweets" Edison on "Sophia." In a mellower vein and much more in the spirit of collaboration rather than competition are Jacquet and Eldridge on "Las Vegas Blues." Similarly, Phillips takes on then-modern trombone player Bill Harris on "Funky Blues" and with Charlie Shavers on "Blues for Midgets." In a more relaxed vein, he joins with the Oscar Peterson Quartet, featuring Buddy Rich on drums, on "Lemon Aid." In addition to these top players, the sessions are loaded with prime jazz artists of the time, including Ben Webster, Hank Jones, Jimmy Jones, Herb Ellis, and Billy Bauer. Some of the Phillips cuts have been reissued as part of Mosaic's The Complete Verve/Clef Charlie Ventura & Flip Phillips Studio Sessions. Similarly, some of the Jacquet material, especially that made with Webster, can be found on a Verve compilation. If you can find either or both sets, gobble them up quickly. This is prime stuff.