The Alto Sax volume of theJazz-Club series is organized in an individual, perhaps provocative way that illustrates the dominant influence of one man, pro or con, over an entire generation of alto players, all born between 1923 and 1933. It starts out with "Now's the Time" in the hands of Charlie Parker, the fountainhead of bop on the alto, and then mostly contemplates the ongoing adventures of the bopsters and the coolsters; in other words, the Parker and the anti-Parker. The most historic track -- and the only example of pre-Parker styles -- finds Benny Carter, Johnny Hodges (both born in 1907) and Parker trading blues licks for the first few minutes of a 13-plus-minute Norman Granz jam session on "Funky Blues" (tenors Flip Phillips and Ben Webster also join in). Another, shorter alto summit, "Prompt," throws together Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, Leo Wright and Pony Poindexter. The rest of the estimable lineup includes Bud Shank, Art Pepper, Cannonball Adderley, Charlie Mariano, Paul Desmond (with Gerry Mulligan), Sonny Stitt, Jackie McLean, Gigi Gryce, Eric Dolphy (drawing from Parker and Hodges with Charles Mingus' big band in "Bemoanable Lady"), and Herb Geller. But where's Ornette Coleman, or anyone more contemporary than the Parker generation?
AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell