For his first recording session for Capitol, jazz blues pianist Junior Mance abandoned his usual small-group format for a big-band recording. Mance is joined by some of the cream of the West Coast studio and jazz players for a session that features Mance doing his blues thing on piano while the band swings at various tempi ranging from high moderate paces to high-energy romping. There are no reeds, so the sound is brighter and edgier than usual, but never shrill, resembling somewhat the style of the Count Basie Orchestra. The synergy between piano player and band is apparent on all the tracks, and is especially telling on all-time big-band favorite "Moten Swing" and the up-tempo 12-bar theme on "Running Upstairs." Mance is equally comfortable with ballads, as on "But Beautiful," with the band's brass led on this cut by the bass trombone of George Roberts, sounding as if a French horn or two were present, à la Claude Thornhill. The group swings particularly soulfully on "September Song" from Knickerbocker Holiday. The album's coda, "Get Ready, Set, Jump!!!," was the theme song of one of the early swing groups, the Savoy Sultans, and is written by that outfit's leader, Al Cooper. Given the quality of individuals in the band, it's too bad that some time couldn't have been reserved for Pete Candoli, Don Fagerquist, or Milt Bernhardt to take a few solos. But since only a little more than 27 minutes was allotted for the entire session, there wasn't much to allocate once Mance got finished. But his work and the ensemble playing are outstanding and, despite the parsimonious time allowance, the album is recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan