Tenor saxophonist Dave Pell, the leader of one of the definitive cool jazz groups of the 1950s (the Dave Pell Octet), broke up his group shortly before recording this intriguing album. A tribute to the John Kirby Sextet of the early '40s (a predecessor of cool jazz), this project finds Pell switching to clarinet and heading a sextet also including trumpeter Ray Linn, the great altoist Benny Carter, pianist John Williams, bassist Lyle Ritz, and drummer Frank Capp. The opening "Rose Room" is a note-for-note recreation of the original Kirby recording (including the solos), while other tunes from Kirby's repertoire were either transcribed from records (but having new solos) or new arrangements by Harry Betts, Med Flory, Johnny Williams and Marty Paich. This is a successful effort, with Linn, Pell, and Carter capturing the spirit of Charlie Shavers, Buster Bailey, and Russell Procope, all of whom were still quite active at the time. This rare LP (long overdue to be reissued on CD), which includes two originals in the Kirby style, is well-worth searching for.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow