Hamburg_span3
March 2008

Various Artists
Hamburg, Germany February 29, 1956
Fresh Sound Records

During 1944-57, Norman Granz produced Jazz at the Philharmonic, a series of organized all-star jam sessions that brought together many of the great solo stars of swing and bop on tours of the United States and Europe. Imagine getting to see Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Flip Phillips, Illinois Jacquet, Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown and Gene Krupa onstage at the same time.

While the JATP live recordings of 1944-49 have been reissued by Polygram on a 10-CD set, The Complete Jazz at the Philharmonic on Verve: 1944-1949, the 1950s performances have come out in piecemeal fashion and are long overdue to be coherently organized. A Fresh Sound two-CD set, simply called Hamburg, Germany February 29, 1956, is a major find since none of these performances had been released before. The music is taken from two concerts with the above personnel. The first disc has the full group on two exciting versions apiece of “Jam at JATP” (“Honeysuckle Rose”) and “The Modern Set” (“I Found A New Baby”), two renditions of Dizzy’s feature on “My Man,” a four-song ballad medley, and a well-recorded Krupa solo on “Drum Boogie.” The second CD showcases the Oscar Peterson Trio on six numbers, Ella Fitzgerald in top form on eight selections and a closing “Lady Be Good” that has the only tenor tradeoff that has thus far arisen featuring Jacquet and Phillips. Plenty of sparks fly throughout this stirring concert (the two trumpeters are at their most competitive) that finds all of these musicians and Ella at the top of their game.

Originally published in March 2008
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