Butch Miles has made relatively few recordings as a leader during his long career, especially when compared to the prolific output of co-leader Howard Alden during the 1980s and 1990s, but this very enjoyable concert in Hamburg's Amerika Haus is available again as a limited-edition reissue, following its initial issue in 1995. Miles clearly knows how to propel a band, having previously served with Count Basie and the Dave Brubeck Quartet while Alden was in the process of becoming one of the most in-demand guitarists of the 1990s because of his effortlessly inventive playing and encyclopedic knowledge of songs. Trumpeter Randy Sandke, tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, and bassist Frank Tate were frequently collaborators with Alden on recording dates or in touring packages of various editions of the George Wein All Stars. The guitarist's wife, Terrie Richards Alden, adds her flirty vocals to a swinging take of "Them There Eyes," coasts along with Tate's tasty bass introduction to "I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me," and takes a subtle approach to the brisk "What a Little Moonlight Can Do." Although the instrumental repertoire is primarily swing in nature, with imaginative treatments of warhorses like "Lady Be Good" and "Jubilee," they explore less familiar territory such as Duke Ellington's lovely "Azalea" (a delicious Alden-Sandke duet), Barney Kessel's "Barney's Blues" (a feature for the rhythm section alone), and Bill Evans' tricky "Funkallero" (which includes Alden's brief but humorous detour into Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse"). All of the musicians on this highly recommended CD are in top form throughout this memorable concert.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden