When this CD was released, it was a major surprise. GRP is a label whose initial reputation was made on pop-ish jazz. However, co-founders Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen always had a love for the sound of big bands and for hard bop. For this set, they gathered together some of the most notable players on their label to play 12 jazz standards dating from the mid-'40s ("Donna Lee") up to the early '70s ("Spain"). The lineup of musicians is quite impressive, comprised of trumpeters Arturo Sandoval, Randy Brecker, and Sal Marquez; trombonist George Bohanon (who had to be imported since GRP did not have any trombonists); a reed section of Eric Marienthal, Nelson Rangell, Bob Mintzer, Ernie Watts and Tom Scott; bassist John Patitucci; drummer Dave Weckl; and several alternating pianists (Grusin, Russell Ferrante, Kenny Kirkland, and David Benoit), plus such guests as guitarist Lee Ritenour, flutist Dave Valentine, vibraphonist Gary Burton, clarinetist Eddie Daniels, and percussionist Alex Acuna. On the strictly straight-ahead set, which has such tunes as "Blue Train," "Sister Sadie," "The Sidewinder," and "Manteca," all of the musicians are featured adequately. It is a particular revelation hearing Marienthal and Rangell sound passable in this setting. Easily recommended to hard bop and big band collectors.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow
feat: All Star Big Band