For six years during the '30s and early '40s, the Savoy Sultans were the house band at the Savoy in New York City. The band heard on these 1983 studio recordings only features one veteran of the original group, tenor saxophonist George Kelly, but it more than does justice to the standards that dominate these sessions. Led by drummer Panama Francis, who worked with Kelly in various bands beginning in the late '40s, the group also includes bopper Bobby Watson (as Robert Watson) and veteran session musician Phil Bodner in the sax section, trumpeters Irvin Stokes and Spanky Davis, plus bassist Bill Pemberton (who died the following year). Kelly wrote all of the charts, which are highlighted by Wild Bill Davis' "Stolen Sweets" (a variation on "April in Paris,") the strutting take of "Sentimental Journey," and a peppy performance of "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," the latter featuring a fine alto solo by Watson. Kelly, who died less than two years after completing his work on this album, is the star soloist for most of the disc. Initially issued by Stash and reissued on its subsidiary label Viper's Nest, this CD has become more difficult to find since it lapsed from print.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden