In addition to creating a successful television series and playing parts in a number of films, Jackie Gleason made a series of best-selling orchestral pop albums during the 1950s and early '60s, conducting and arranging. While his compositions aren't especially memorable, they are entertaining. Gleason had a great love for jazz and frequently hired some of the best jazz musicians for his record dates as members of his orchestra. This date is a little different, as his four guests get prominent solo space. Trumpeter Charlie Shavers cooks in the midtempo blues "Route 9A Romp," and Charlie Ventura follows with a fiery tenor sax solo. Ventura plays a melodic solo on the unwieldy bass sax in the swinging "Hawthorne Circle Hop." Trombonist Jimmy Cleveland is the centerpiece of another hot number, "Briarcliff Beat." Sadly, pianist Hank Jones' contributions seem buried in the mix of this large orchestra session, which included strings, two separate brass sections (one of which is muted), plus reeds. While many jazz fans scoff at easy listening albums, this one should be considered palatable.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden