The Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band, in some ways, compares to the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, though with a primarily European cast of all-stars. With American expatriates Clarke, trumpeters Benny Bailey and Idrees Sulieman, saxophonists Johnny Griffin and Sahib Shihab, and bassist Jimmy Woode, plus top-notch European players like Dusko Gojkovic, Tony Coe, and Ronnie Scott, and pianist Francy Boland's exciting arrangements, this group could swing the best of them. This German two-LP reissue combines two separate albums (Volcano and Rue Chaptal) that were recorded during the same evening in 1969 at Ronnie Scott's in London, consisting mostly of originals by Boland, with a cooking blues feature, "Griff's Groove," showcasing Griffin and Bailey, especially standing out. Clarke composed the explosive "Volcano" as a feature for himself and fellow drummer Kenny Clare. Woode, a veteran of Duke Ellington's band, penned the gospel-inflected blues "Now Hear My Meanin'," which has soulful solos by alto saxophonist Derek Humble, trombonist Ake Persson, and baritone saxophonist Shihab. Long out of print and overdue to be reissued, this exciting album is well worth acquiring.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden