The Best Things in Life is the first in a series of compilations chronicling Mel Powell's sessions for Vanguard in the late '50s. Originally, this material was released on four separate albums -- Out on a Limb, Thigamagig, The Mel Powell Bandstand, Featuring Joan Wile and The Mel Powell Septet -- and this collection doesn't presume to assemble his entire works in chronological order. Instead, it offers highlights, concentrating on Powell's impeccable, swinging style. The legendary John Hammond recorded these sessions and he allowed the various groups to simply play what they feel, which gives the music an engagingly free-form feel. This is laid-back in the best sense of the word -- the groove is easy and natural, making the music all the more enticing. Powell's Vanguard sessions may not rank among his very best, but they're quite enjoyable, not only for aficionados, but for anyone who enjoys good swinging piano.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine