Drummer Kenny Clarke became a fixture on the Paris jazz scene after moving there in 1956. One of his best records from his early days abroad, originally released by Phillips, is finally available on CD as a part of Verve's Jazz in Paris reissue series. With superb arrangements by Andre Hodeir, and a rotating cast of musicians over three separate recording sessions, the drummer sticks to providing brushwork behind the scenes. "Bemsha Swing," jointly written by Clarke with Thelonious Monk, centers around Martial Solal's playful solo, while the brass and reeds seem to be coming at each other from all angles in Monk's "Eronel." Hodeir's composition "Oblique" sounds like something that would have fit in perfectly as part of the repertoire of the Miles Davis Birth of the Cool sessions, a period which Hodeir explores with his chart of Gerry Mulligan's "Jeru," in which the improvisations are actually written out. The moody take of "Blue Serge" briefly showcases trombonist Billy Byers, trumpeter Roger Guerin and baritone saxophonist Armand Migani. The only headache with this reissue is the mixed up track by track personnel listings, which don't consistently match up with the music heard, and which omit alto saxophonist Robert Guismath entirely.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden