This early date for saxophonist Johnny Griffin is one of his best. In addition to Griffin's renowned skill and speed on the tenor sax--which is evident throughout 1957's A BLOWING SESSION--the personnel here comprises an almost unbelievable all-star lineup. With Art Blakey's hard-swinging thunder on the drums, Paul Chambers holding down delicate-yet-complex bass lines, and Wynton Kelly's bluesy touch on the piano, the rhythm section is simply unbeatable. Add to this young firebrand Lee Morgan on trumpet, and the triple saxophone threat of Griffin, Hank Mobley, and John Coltrane, and you have one of the most talented bands of the hard-bop era.
These musicians existed in the same general orbit--all had played with groups led by Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, or Blakey himself. As expected, they display a marvelous rapport, with plenty of fine interplay, invention, and heat to keep things cooking. The set features two Griffin originals and two standards ("The Way You Look Tonight," played at breakneck speed, and the lightly swinging "All the Things You Are"). The album is aptly named--Morgan, Coltrane, Mobley, and Griffin are in dazzling form on every track. This hard-bop classic deserves a place in every jazz fan's library.
Personnel: Johnny Griffin, Hank Mobley, John Coltrane (tenor saxophone); Lee Morgan (trumpet); Wynton Kelly (piano); Paul Chambers (bass); Art Blakey (drums).
01 The Way You Look Tonight
02 Ball Bearings
03 All the Things You Are
04 Smoke Stack
05 Smoke Stack (Alternate Take)