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Star Dreams

Don Redman All Stars

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Album Review

Don Redman had been inactive for some time by the time of these 1957 small group studio sessions. The swing-era bandleader and alto saxophonist has been somewhat overlooked for his contributions and these obscure dates, initially issued by Jazz Kings and long unavailable until Drive Archive reissued them on CD in 1998, add to his legacy. Redman's compositions are enjoyable, even though they will be unfamiliar to most swing fans, while his alto sax is lightly swinging without hogging the spotlight. Four tracks include trombonists Tyree Glenn and Will Bradley, pianist Cyril Haynes, and drummer Panama Francis. Highlights include the upbeat "If I Had My Way" (which showcases Glenn, Redman, George Duvivier, and Haynes) and the playful "Lydia" (featuring Glenn on vibes), along with "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil" (showcasing Glenn's muted "ya-ya" trombone solo, à la Tricky Sam Nanton). The second date includes Coleman Hawkins, Duvivier, drummer Jo Jones, and guitarist Al Caiola, with some rather dated organ in spots by Hank Sylvern and Redman playing piano and celeste on some tracks. Other than Hawkins' solos, little is memorable about these performances. A third date finds Redman joined by trumpeters Joe Wilder and Harry "Sweets" Edison, pianist Hank Jones, bassist Al Hall, and drummer Jimmy Crawford for the bluesy "Mad Love" (with fine solos all around) and the perky take of the standard "My Gal Sal" (showcasing the two trumpeters and Hank Jones, who sounds a bit like Teddy Wilson at times). While swing fans will want to search for this enjoyable CD, the demise of Drive Archive will make it a bit tougher to acquire.

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