Claude Bolling is a classical pianist who demonstrated an affinity for jazz with numerous recordings in crossover settings. But this 1972 session recorded for Phillips is strictly a solo piano affair in which Bolling salutes the greats of jazz piano, including Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Thelonious Monk, Willie "The Lion" Smith, Jelly Roll Morton, Earl Hines, Erroll Garner, and Horace Silver. He primarily sticks to a stride piano setting, which gives a whole new flavor to Silver's "The Preacher," while his interpretations of the works of stride pianists like Smith are technically polished but seem just a tad mechanical, lacking a true improviser's touch. Likewise, Bolling's rendition of Monk's "'Round About Midnight" is a bit overly dramatic, with occasionally excessive use of the sustain pedal that muddies the sound. If the intent of this CD is to get classical listeners to check out the original recordings of these jazz giants, it is a resounding success. But those familiar with the recordings by each artist represented in this collection may be a bit disappointed with this tribute.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden