Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual was an early attempt to document jazz on public television during the 1960s. After their initial broadcasts, the programs were set aside until someone at Rhino obtained the rights to issue them on video, with Koch issuing audio-only CDs. Dizzy Gillespie's set is the more explosive of the two, with pianist Lalo Schifrin, alto saxophonist and flutist Leo Wright, bassist Bob Cunningham, and drummer Chuck Lampkin. The trumpeter's interaction on his exotic-sounding tribute to his wife, "Lorraine," focuses on the interaction of his muted horn with Wright's flute, while the opener, "Norm's Norm," is more in-your-face bop. Benny Golson's "Blues After Dark" has more of a soft-shoe sound, accented with Lampkin's brushes in a relatively long workout. The excerpt of Schifrin's "Gillespiana" is interrupted by the host's closing comments and then faded since time was up. All of Art Farmer's quartet recordings with guitarist Jim Hall merit attention, and this discovery is no exception. With bassist Steve Swallow (prior to his switch to electric bass a few years later) and drummer Walter Perkins, the subtle flugelhornist leads his group through an enjoyable set, starting with a snappy take of Irving Berlin's "Change Partners," a beautifully understated waltz treatment of "Sometime Ago," and a foot-patting take of "My Kind of Love." Charlie Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes," a feature for the drummer, loses something without seeing the accompanying video. Hall demonstrates throughout the set why Farmer states that he doesn't need a pianist with this formidable guitarist present. Ralph Gleason's conversations with both Gillespie and Farmer are engaging and add something special to each program. Whether or not you own the video of either of these individual programs, investing in this CD compilation is justified for the strong performances by each group.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden
feat: Ralph J. Gleason