Howard McGhee


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The first half of this two-LP set is much better than the second half. On the first album the great bop trumpeter Howard McGhee is heard at the peak of his powers in 1948 with two different sextets: one with Jimmy Heath (who doubles here on alto and baritone) and vibraphonist Milt Jackson, while the second date features Billy Eckstine, on valve trombone. The latter disc has sessions (recorded in Guam during 1951-52) that find McGhee leading a pianoless group with trombonist J.J. Johnson and Rudy Williams on tenor. Unfortunately that band (which entertained troops overseas) was stuck doing a halfhearted history of jazz presentation with a dull medley and remakes of several hit songs. There are some worthwhile moments but these performances are pretty streaky. However the first album is strong enough by itself to recommend this two-fer.

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