You know what you're going to get when you see the personnel: Joe Pass, Milt Jackson, Ray Brown and Mickey Roker. Three of the greatest musicians ever on their instruments, plus, in Mickey Roker, a fine, technically superb drummer who fits in perfectly. The group was a collective, although Joe Pass seems to have attracted most attention, and came together occasionally in the late seventies for recordings and concerts.
The tunes are a mixture of Blues, originals by group members and Gershwin standards. 'Concorde' is a fastish blues, not from the sound of it the John Lewis tune, and 'Blues for the Stone' a medium grooving blues that these guys could play for ever. Of the Gershwin tunes 'Lady Be Good' is taken at an unusually slow tempo, unlike the Lester Young classic and 'The Man I Love' starts off as a ballad but then moves into tempo. These fellows are not just going through the motions, they have gone to some trouble to work out different but appropriate ways of tackling each tune.
The musicians? Milt Jackson is on top form and feels entirely comfortable in his surroundings. Joe Pass plays extremely well. He doesn't fall into the trap he sometimes did on Norman Granz dates and get into a display of technique in competition with other musicians, usually Oscar Peterson. Both play up to their stellar reputations. Ray Brown shows that he was the best bass player around and Mickey Roker is not outshone, which in that company must have been some achievement.
So why only 4 stars? Bass and drums suffer somewhat from the change in recording techniques which took place a few years before. Instead of getting a sizzle and hiss from the snares and cymbals you just get a dry thud. Instead of getting that mellow support and sustaining beat from the bass you just get a bass. It's still the best bass playing in the world but it's no longer the superhuman sound Ray Brown used to produce.