This set is a near-classic, one of many from this period, by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Drummer Joe Dodge had just joined the group, and he works with bassist Ron Crotty in laying down a solid and subtle foundation. The real action, however, takes place up front with pianist Dave Brubeck and altoist Paul Desmond. Their individual solos are full of creative ideas on six standards - most memorable are "All the Things You Are," "Laura," and "I'll Never Smile Again" - and their interaction and tradeoffs are timeless.
This double LP was the first jazz concert ever recorded at the Hollywood Bowl (and only the second one held at that L.A. institution). Although not an official Jazz at the Philharmonic concert, it has the same basic format and was also produced by Norman Granz. Trumpeters Roy Eldridge and Harry "Sweets" Edison, tenors Flip Phillips and Illinois Jacquet, the Oscar Peterson Trio and drummer Buddy Rich all jam on "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Jumpin' at the Woodside" and there is also a ballad medley and a drum solo by Rich. In addition the Oscar Peterson Trio plays two numbers, the remarkable pianist Art Tatum (in one of his final appearances) has four, Ella Fitzgerald sings six songs (including a scat-filled "Airmail Special") and collaborates with Louis Armstrong on two others. For the grand finale nearly everyone returns to the stage for "When the Saints Go Marching In" which Armstrong sings and largely narrates, cheerfully introducing all of the participants. This is a historic and very enjoyable release featuring more than its share of classic greats.