Musicians can be notoriously picky about choosing tracks from live gigs, but rest assured that this third volume of performances taken from Hod O'Brien's July 2004 stint at Blues Alley is a collection worthy of comparison to the first two volumes, even though the pianist explains in the liner notes that he previously rejected some of them. First of all, what seems like a flaw to a seasoned player may go unnoticed to most fans, particularly since someone of O'Brien's caliber is usually able to improvise off a momentary slip and continue without distraction. It also doesn't hurt that his rhythm section consists of bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Kenny Washington, two of the most in-demand players of their generation. There are no duplications with earlier sets. While this volume focuses on a number of pieces by Tadd Dameron, including a driving take of his popular vehicle "Our Delight," a buoyant, breezy interpretation of the rarely heard "Dameronia" plus a lush treatment of the timeless ballad "If You Could See Me Now" and a snappy rendition of "On a Misty Night." Howard McGhee's infrequently heard bop anthem "Double Talk" is a nice surprise, while O'Brien's arrangements of the two standards, "Easy Living" and "It Could Happen to You," remain fresh in spite of their familiarity to jazz audiences. Hod O'Brien's Live at Blues Alley: Third Set is clearly first rate material from start to finish.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden