Jazz impresario George Wein is obviously more widely known for founding the Newport Jazz Festival and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (among others) than as a musician, but he always gives it his all when he gets around to recording. Although he's hardly an innovator or an important pianist, he always surrounds himself with top-notch musicians, and this 1961 concert at the Olympia Theater in Paris is no exception. His group includes Pee Wee Russell, Ruby Braff, Vic Dickenson, Jimmy Woode, and Buzzy Drootin, all of whom are in fine form. The focus of this set is primarily Dixieland, though there are some standards from the swing era. Count Basie's "Blue and Sentimental" provides a terrific showcase for Braff, while Vic Dickenson's sassy solo is the centerpiece of "Lover, Come Back to Me." It's apparent that a good time was had by all, so anyone interested in three outstanding players (Russell, Braff, and Dickenson) will enjoy this long out of print LP issued by the long defunct Smash label.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden