Hard-swingin tracks from Ernie Wilkins – one of the most soulful arrangers of his time
, working here in a wonderful all-star session from the 50s! The album's definitely got the "top brass" promised in the title – a lineup that features Donald Byrd, Ray Copeland, Idrees Sulieman, and Joe Wilder on trumpets – all working at a level that allows plenty of space for well-blown solos, but tied up in tighter ensemble formation overall – all with that Wilkins sense of swing that really set Ernie apart at the time
. Rhythm is from a trip that includes Hank Jones on piano, Wendell Marshall on bass, and Kelly Clarke on drums – and titles include "58 Market Street", "Trick Or Treat", "Speedway", "Dot's What", "Top Brass", "Imagination", and "Willow Weep For Me". Also features the album Trumpets All Out – an all-trumpet affair, one that features 5 different players on the instrument – Art Farmer, Emmet Berry, Charlie Shavers, Ernie Royal, and Harold Baker – supported by spare rhythm from the trio of Don Abney on piano, Wendell Marshall on bass, and Bobby Donaldson on drums. There's a definite swing-based approach here – different than usual for some of Farmer's outings of the time
– but the differences between the players are nicely pronounced, and the amazing thing about
the album is how it manages to pack so much solo energy in such a relatively small space, in a way that still lets you hear the different voices clearly. Titles include "She's Just My Size", "Five Cats Swingin", "Blues In 6/
4", "Trumpets All Out", and "Low Life".
(Cover has a cutout notch.)