This excellent Columbia album was recorded less than a year after Dexter Gordon's well-publicized tour of the United States following a dozen years spent living in Europe. With assistance from such other major players as trumpeters Woody Shaw and Benny Bailey, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson sounds in superlative form on Woody Shaw's "The Moontrane," four standards, and his own "Fried Bananas." In addition to the original program (which features Dexter with an all-star tentet), the 1997 CD reissue adds two 1979 features for vocalese singer Eddie Jefferson ("Diggin' It" and "It's Only a Paper Moon") that were originally released on Gordon's Great Encounters; trumpeter Shaw and trombonist Curtis Fuller co-star with Gordon. An excellent acquisition.
This gargantuan package – a ten-LP set now compressed into a chunky six-CD box – once was derided as the ultimate ego trip, probably by many who didn't take the time to hear it all. You have to go back to Art Tatum's solo records for Norman Granz in the '50s to find another large single outpouring of solo jazz piano like this, all of it improvised on the wing before five Japanese audiences in Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Tokyo, and Sapporo. Yet the miracle is how consistently good much of this giant box is.