When Stanley Dance coined the phrase "mainstream jazz" some 40 years ago, he described it as music that emphasizes "the twin virtues of communicable emotional expression and swing," which is perfectly typified by the robust music here. Trumpeter Thomas (ex-Henderson and Benny Carter) and trombonist Dickenson each lead groups loaded with big band vets playing what Satchmo used to call "good old good ones." Thomas' front line includes the little-known Johnny Letman (a fire breather a la Roy Eldridge) and the more famous Dickie Wells, Buddy Tate, and Buster Bailey, with Herbie Nichols(!), piano, Everett Barksdale, guitar, and ex-Lunceford drummer Jimmy Crawford. They give it their all on four tunes, including a 13-minute slow blues on which Barksdale and Nichols take their only solos.
Equally hearty are the two tunes by Dickenson's group, whose big names include Buck Clayton, Hal Singer, Danny Barker, and Gene Ramey. "Undecided" and "The Lamp Is Low" are decidedly lower key, yet equally moving, in sum, short but sweet.