The main reason for my buying this album was the promise of intelligent (Benny Golson) and well played (Art Farmer, Julius Watkins, Curtis Fuller, Lee Morgan, Bobby Timmons, Jimmy Cleveland...) brassy big band arrangements of some of my favorite standards ("Autumn Leaves", "Moanin'", "April in Paris", "Stella by Starlight") and of some songs I don't know that well - or at all... The promise was delivered, and then some!
The band sounds so warm and beautiful, I'm really happy with this CD. Also, I'd like to point out that Percy Heath, best known for his work in Modern Jazz Quartet proves here that he is an ideal big band bass player; on some tracks drums are played by Philly Joe Jones, on others by Elvin Jones, but Percy is constantly there, in a group where only one track has a piano (Bobby Timmons on his song "Moanin'") it is a greater responsibility to corner the band and help it build the drive.
The second album on this CD ("Aztec Suite") is a bit less brassy, but it's still fine (arr. Chico O'Farrill), exploring various latin modes of jazz.
So, in addition to Farmer , the first album boasts: Lee Morgan, Ernie Royal (tp), Curtis Fuller, Jimmy Cleveland, Wayne Andre (tb), James Haughton (baritone horn), Julus Watkins, Bob Northern (frh), Don Butterfield (tuba), Bobby Timmons (p), P. Heath (b), Ph. J. Jones, E. Jones (dm). Not all the players appear on each track; check the booklet.
The second album has Farmer and: Bernie Glow, Markie Markowitz, Nick Travis, Joe Ferrante (tp) Frank Rehak, J. Cleveland, Tommy Mitchell (rb), Jimmy Buffington, Tony Miranda (frh), Jay McAllister (tuba), Spencer Sinatra, Zoot Sims, Seldon Powell (ts), Sol Schlinger (bs), Hank Jones (p), Addison Farmer (b); Charlie Persip (dm), Jose Mangual, Tommy Lopez, Willie Rodriguez (perc.)... Conducted by the versatile Al Cohn (since O'Farrill couldn't come to the US to do it himself).