The self explanatory title of Toots Thielemans' latest all-star party, East Coast West Coast only hints at part of the intense dichotomy involved. The harmonica master may divide his interplay with New York and L.A.'s greatest jazz stars, but the real difference has nothing to do with musical breeding or geography. It involves tempo. More specifically, when the arrangement is up and lively, Toots and his coasters swing; on ballads, even the strongest of melodic spirit can't save the tedium which results. As on his generally stronger Brazilian projects of late, there are some sporty, inspired moments. Terence Blanchard's trumpet and Joshua Redman's sax take on jet propulsion qualities on Monk and Dizzy and Coltrane covers, and Robben Ford's strings add a touch of rhythmic class to "Take Five." The Paul Desmond gem is also notable for a whimsical tonal dual between Toots and Jerry Goodman's sweeping violin. But bland experiments which waste the likes of Herbie Hancock and vibist Mike Mainieri crash in all too often, leading to all-too-maddening moodswings despite positive intentions.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran