In her maturity, pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams had a way of creating an atmosphere of cool grace and dignified majesty. On January 31, 1971, she performed at the Overseas Press Club in New York with bassist George Duvivier, drummer Grady Tate, and two trumpeters from decidedly different backgrounds: Dizzy Gillespie, the archetype of early modern jazz trumpet, and Bobby Hackett, a longtime associate of Eddie Condon and the Chicago school of traditional jazz. This friendly little nightclub recording reveals a confluence of great minds. Supported by a rock-solid rhythm section, the trumpeters mingle happily, savoring each ballad and sharing the creative fire of "Caravan" and "Birk's Works." Their ebullient interplay during a dazzling rendition of Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" is particularly moving. The producers of this reissue capped the album with two extended Jazz at the Philharmonic all-star performances recorded live at the Berlin Sportpalast on February 10, 1955. Here Gillespie is matched with Roy Eldridge alongside trombonist Bill Harris and tenor saxophonist Flip Phillips; with rhythm backing by Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, and Louie Bellson. The standard ten-minute "Ballads Medley" (with loud applause between the solos) is followed by a 15-minute upbeat romp on the blues entitled "Jam Session." Any misgivings generated by the absence of Mary Lou Williams from the final 25 minutes of this album will quickly evaporate once the listener falls under the spell of a powerful all-star jam band anchored by Oscar Peterson.
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