In the Land of Oo-Bla-Dee is a fine collection of rarities from the obscure and underrated tenor saxophonist Allen Eager. Eager had a wild career that began with him recording for Savoy in the '40s and later found him dropping out with Timothy Leary and jamming with the Mothers of Invention. This disc features Eager's always swinging sound in a variety of settings. First off are three tracks recorded in 1953 at the Hi Hat in Boston featuring Symphony Sid as the MC. Next is a very lo-fi version of Eager's own high-charged original composition "Some Blues" recorded in 1949 for CBS's Adventures in Jazz program. The song has some typically loud drumming from Buddy Rich that can't obscure Eager's fine soloing. Next up are tracks recorded at what sound like impromptu jam sessions at photographer Milton Greene's studio in 1947. There are three different sessions represented here, the first session resulted in two songs, including "Serge Swings Allen's Axe," with the similarly underrated and forgotten baritone saxist Serge Chaloff fooling around with Eager's tenor. The next session yielded three songs and this time featured Chaloff's lush playing on the baritone sax, resulting in some fine takes on Al Cohn's "The Goof and I" and the jazz standard "Fine and Dandy." The third session is an all-star session with Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Max Roach on hand. The first track, "Swapping Horns," lives up to its title as Parker and Eager actually switch horns, putting Bird on tenor and Eager on alto. They also play the same song and call it "Original Horns," with Parker on alto and Eager on tenor. In between those two tunes is a moody version of "All the Things You Are" featuring Parker and Powell but not Eager. The music is supplemented by a huge booklet jammed with biographical information, recording data, and loads of very cool photos from the Milton Greene archives. This disc is hardly an essential purchase for the casual or even dedicated jazz fan, but for those fans who would categorize themselves as rabid it is a must-have, because the music is rare and very good. There also isn't anywhere else currently to hear Allen Eager as a leader.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra