The 1946 Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts were true all-star events. This CD compiles portions of two different evenings. The first track, from January, includes trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie, Al Kilian, and Howard McGhee and saxophonists Charlie Parker, Willie Smith, Charlie Ventura, and Lester Young in the front line. Young, having recently gotten out of the military service, is still not at full strength, with Parker and Gillespie taking charge in the rousing "Sweet Georgia Brown." McGhee takes Dizzy's place on the remaining January numbers. Parker, Smith, and Young are on hand for the April show, adding tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and trumpeter Buck Clayton battling it out in an old-fashioned jam session on-stage. In the opening "J.A.T.P. Blues," Parker and Hawkins outshine the others, while "I Got Rhythm" gets things percolating and enlivens the crowd in an extended workout. Unlike later Jazz at the Philharmonic shows, the rhythm section is merely average, aside from pianist Mel Powell's contributions to "Sweet Georgia Brown." The audio is quite good for the era, considering the limitations of live recording in a large hall in 1946.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden