The genesis of this reissue is somewhat complicated. The first CD comprises the contents of three 10" LPs, all by the Gene Krupa Sextet. Four numbers were recorded in April 1953, with Charlie Shavers, Willie Smith, Teddy Wilson, Steve Jordan & Israel Crosby. They were bundled with two of eight numbers recorded in September 1953, and issued on the second album; the rest were issued on the first LP. The line-up for the second date had altered somewhat; out had gone Smith, Jordan & Crosby, to be replaced by Bill Harris, Ben Webster, & Ray Brown. The third date, February 1954, was back to the original line-up, but for Ben Webster, whose place was taken by Eddie Davis. This LP was also issued as "The Driving Gene Krupa".
The second CD begins with "Hey ... Here's Gene Krupa" which was recorded in mid-1957 with Eddie Shu, Dave McKenna & Wendell Marshall, and released on Verve in 1959. "The Gene Krupa Trio Collates" with Charlie Ventura and Teddy Napoleon was a 10" Mercury album issued in 1953. Just to further complicate matters, the six tracks were later combined with the first two Sextet LPs and repackaged as "Drum Boogie" and "The Exciting Gene Krupa". The compilation concludes with the EP "Drum Boogie" which was recorded in Tokyo in April 1952.
Gene Krupa pioneered the extended drum solo, and always made his presence felt, not least by his deployment of the bass drum. As you'd expect, these recordings from the fifties offer exciting hard-driving jazz, particularly the Sextet albums, which feature lusty contributions from Bill Harris. They include also moments of lyrical beauty as on "Don't Take Your Love From Me" and "Imagination" both of which feature Ben Webster, with Charlie Shavers doing a fair impression of Harry James in the latter. It's a very well-planned compilation, with high-quality sound restoration.