Dave Bailey's One Foot in the Gutter is the first of several dates which originally appeared on Epic in the early 1960s but has been hard to find until this CD reissue came out. The veteran drummer literally leads a blowing session in the studio without any prepared arrangements or set list, inspired by an invited audience of friends and jazz fans. The musicians include the outstanding front line of Clark Terry, Junior Cook and Curtis Fuller, along with Horace Parlan and Peck Morrison joining the leader in the rhythm section. The music is consistently loose, fresh and very inspired; egos have been checked at the door as everyone aspires to work together to produce the best results. Clark Terry's sauntering bluesy "One Foot in the Gutter" gets things off on the right foot, followed by a burning interpretation of Thelonious Monk's "Well You Needn't," featuring Terry's almost conversational fluegelhorn, as well as an intense, well-paced tenor sax solo by Cook and an inventive turn in the spotlight by Parlan. The finale is an extended workout of Clifford Brown's "Sandu" which pushes everyone to a peak. The results were so successful that additional sessions (Gettin' Into Something and Two Feet in the Gutter soon followed; this release is strong proof that talented musicians don't have to meticulously plan out their set to produce timeless music.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden