The number of Jazz at the Philharmonic recordings produced by Norman Granz that have never seen the light of day must dwarf the sizable quantity which have been commercially issued. This 1949 concert was finally released over 52 years after it was recorded, not long after Granz's death. What's notable about this date is that it features alto saxophonists Charlie Parker and Sonny Criss together and also contains the only available Jazz at the Philharmonic recordings by trumpeter Fats Navarro and drummer Shelly Manne. If that's not enough, the presence of Coleman Hawkins, Hank Jones, Flip Phillips, and Ray Brown should merit your attention. The first set features the typical long jams that the concert series was known for, with the playing at a high level with the possible exception of trombonist Tommy Turk (due to his crowd-pleasing antics), whose name has definitely faded compared to the rest of the musicians present. Everyone except Hawkins takes part in the opening segment. "Leap Here," credited to Nat King Cole, is followed by the more familiar "(Back Home In) Indiana" and "Lover, Come Back to Me," all of which work extremely well. All three saxophonists and Turk have departed by the time Coleman Hawkins takes the stage. The legendary tenor man punches out his familiar riff tune, "Rifftide," with some spunky licks added by the young, ill-fated Navarro. Hawkins' ballad mastery is demonstrated in a memorable interpretation of "Sophisticated Lady." Navarro is the spotlighted soloist in a warm rendition of "The Things We Did Last Summer." The rhythm section of Jones, Brown, and Manne is a superb anchor during both sets. Fans of live J.A.T.P. extravaganzas, even with the occasional distraction of overzealous fans shouting and screaming in totally inappropriate places, will definitely want to acquire this historic concert.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden