Other than a Bethlehem album in 1955 and a few obscure titles, all of vibraphonist Joe Roland's recordings as a leader are on this enjoyable CD reissue. Roland, best-known for an early '50s stint with George Shearing's Quintet, was a excellent vibist whose style fell somewhere between Terry Gibbs and Milt Jackson. He is paired in two 1954 quintets with either Freddie Redd (who plays conventional bop) and Wade Legge (sounding at his most eccentric) on piano. However the most memorable set is from 1950 for Roland is joined by guitar (Joe Puma), bass, drums and a string quartet. The writing for the strings (which is uncredited) is quite inventive and, although the strings do not solo, they sound very much like a jazz ensemble. It is particularly interesting to hear this instrumentation playing "Half Nelson," "Dee Dee's Dance" and Roland's original "Sally Is Gone"; guest singer Paula Castle does a fine job on the haunting "Love Is Just a Plaything." Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow