A classic album of Tristano-school cool jazz with subtle leanings toward the avant-garde. While this set is not without a number of typical West Coast jazz tendencies (i.e., cool reed tones, a stiff rhythm section, happy-go-lucky heads, etc.), it has an interestingly wide-open and probing vibe. This band was simply bursting with ideas. On "Ear Conditioning," for example, the tenor tandem of Marsh and Ted Brown weaves in and out of the head with the proficiency and grace displayed -- admittedly, to greater effect -- on Lennie Tristano's "Wow," a tune also featuring Marsh, only with Lee Konitz on alto instead of Brown on tenor. Like "Ear Conditioning," "Smog Eyes" and the title track both employ long and busy heads. In a manner typical of compositions by Tristano's associates, many of these themes are very complicated and take several measures to achieve resolution. That having been said, comparisons to the Tristano Capitol sessions are simply inevitable, as they laid the foundation for everything heard here. To judge the quality of one versus the other, though, is trivial. Jazz of Two Cities has many treasures all of its own. Thankfully, both historic sessions have been reissued together on the Capitol Jazz CD Intuition. Included in the collection are both the stereo and mono takes of four different pieces from the Marsh date. This is because Jazz of Two Cities was issued once in mono and later in stereo with the new title The Winds of Marsh. The two versions of the record feature altogether different takes of two numbers ("Jazz of Two Cities," "I Never Knew") and different solos on the other two ("Ear Conditioning," "Lover Man"). In other words, fidelity is not the only difference between Jazz of Two Cities and The Winds of Marsh; though in and of itself, that's probably not reason enough to spend an arm and a leg on both copies, since they're quite rare and all versions are included on the CD. This is some very fine music by a band with an exceptionally rich collective imagination. It is clear that, in the hands of this combo, every theme is treated like a question with an absolutely limitless amount of harmonic and melodic answers.
AllMusic Review by Brandon Burke