Back during the second half of the 1950s, one of the very few modern jazz groups to be found in New Orleans was the American Jazz Quintet. In 1987 they had a successful reunion at a jazz festival in Georgia that was named after their most famous member, drummer Ed Blackwell. Happily, the five original members (clarinetist Alvin Batiste, tenor saxophonist Harold Battiste, pianist Ellis Marsalis, bassist Richard Payne, and Blackwell) were all still alive and playing in their prime. The group is expanded to a sextet with the addition of altoist Earl Turbinton, originally a student of the late Nat Perilliatt, who was Harold Battiste's successor. The music is essentially original hard bop, hinting in places at the freer music to come in the 1960s but mostly concentrating on swinging. Alvin Batiste, in particular, is in great form, making this a historic set well worth searching for.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow