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Various Artists: Lions Abroad: Tenor Titans Volume 1

This package includes tracks by Ben Webster, Bud Freeman, Don Byas, Wardell Gray, Paul Gonsalves, Illinois Jacquet, Dexter Gordon, Brew Moore, Johnny Griffin, and Albert Ayler. These lions are not, except for Gray and Ayler (whose contributions aren’t typical of him) young and hungry on these dates, and the rhythm sections are less than ideal. Griffin demonstrates that some cats get more ferocious with age, and Ben that they can certainly get finer. There’s particularly nice jazz from Brew Moore, who was under-recorded, and from Dexter, who of course wasn’t. Still, it’s hard to recommend this set except perhaps for young tenor students. Reissues of the Gray and Ayler, a box set of Ben, and individual compilations of the other titans would probably please connoisseurs more. There are good moments throughout, but all of these men did more essential work elsewhere.

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