Baritonist Pepper Adams and tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims (who rarely performed together) make a surprisingly compatible team on this CD reissue of a 1968 Prestige session. With pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Elvin Jones forming a fairly adventurous rhythm section, Pepper and Sims sound inspired on material that includes obscurities by Flanagan, Thad Jones and Adams in addition to the Ellington-Strayhorn ballad "Star-Crossed Lovers" and a pair of Joe Henderson songs. The setting is more advanced than usual for Sims, who rises to the challenge.
When guitarist Al Caiola (1920) moved to New York after graduating he was quickly hired as a staff musician by CBS, where his skill and adaptability guaranteed him a heavy radio and TV schedule until he left in 1956; he was, in fact, one of the busiest, most successful and respected session men in New York City throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In 1955, at the peak of his success, he recorded “Deep in a Dream” and “Serenade in Blue” for Savoy Records, two albums which focused on a meticulous and reverent treatment of a collection of well-known standards and of his own originals. Technically impeccable, on these Caiola is backed by an excellent rhythm section, with pianist Hank Jones demonstrating his usual warmth and skill, aided by drummer Kenny Clarke and bassist Clyde Lombardi.