Unlike the great mural jointly painted by Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael, unlike the great novel collectively written by Hemingway, Dreiser, Steinbeck, and Dos Passos, unlike the classical masterpiece composed in conference by Beethoven, Schubert, and Schumann, this disc actually exists. Nobody on this date is less than terrific, but it is a revelation to hear Charlie Parker and Lester Young together. Flip Phillips gets the crowd fired up with his conventional hot licks; Roy Eldridge does the same with his stage-chewing trumpet, as does Tommy Turk with his trombone; the rhythm section of bassist Ray Brown, drummer Buddy Rich, and pianist Hank Jones keeps things hopping.
But apart from all the very real and very welcome fun is the intriguing contrast between Bird and Prez. Lester Young's flowing lines were a marked departure from the more muscular sax of his great predecessors like Coleman Hawkins. (Although Young could honk too, as he does here on "The Closer".) Young is still too advanced for the crowd, who do not cheer him as lustily as they do Phillips. Yet his style has already been comprehended and surpassed by Parker, as evidenced by his darting, upper-register, bop lines. He's so brilliant the record is filed under his name.
The JATP traded in manufactured thrills? Hey, at least it's thrilling, compared to the if-you-want-melody-you're-a-fascist attitude of jazz that would come in subsequent decades. A great souvenir from an age when geniuses weren't ashamed to show their audiences a good time.