The stars come out in Japan
Christian Justin Shearn | Vestal, NY USA | 08/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1983, Norman Granz took Jazz At The Philharmonic on the road one last time to commemorate his first Japanese tour in 1953. Originally a 3 LP set and now reissued on 2 CD's, "Return To Happiness" documents an evening at Tokyo's Yoyogi National Stadium, with a great lineup featuring players like Zoot Sims, Oscar Peterson and Clark Terry.Among the highlights is a 33 minute ballad medley with two tunes a piece by each of the hornmen. Particularly noteworthy: Harry "Sweets" Edison on "Ain't Misbehavin", J.J. Johnson on "Misty", and Clark Terry on "When Lights Are Low". To close out disc 1, the all stars jam on "Spotlite" a tune where the melody incorporates a bit of "Woody n You" is a showcase for a grandiose, bombastic drum solo by Louie Bellson, using his signature double kick drum to great effect. What follows is a 6 song mini set of the highest quality (the remaining five on disc 2) by the Oscar Peterson Quartet featuring Joe Pass, Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen, and drummer Martin Drew. In what is excellent mainstream music highlights include a greasy "Peace", a tune acknowledging then imprisoned Nelson Mandela, Joe Pass on "Wonderland" and a frenetic "Missisauga Rattler". Ella Fitzgerald and her quartet are up after Peterson, and while Ella's prime years had passed, she sings with emotion, fun, and joy on such numbers as "Willow Weep For Me", a scat workout on "Manteca", and a swinging "All of Me". The evening closes with a jam featuring Ella and the band on Lionel Hampton's "Flying Home" which the very appreciative Japanese audience enjoys. (notice their thunderous applause during Oscar and Ella's sets respectively) Overall, this is an excellent final document of JATP's final years that any fan of jam sessions and Pablo records' all star summits should check out.personnel: Harry "Sweets" Edison, Clark Terry(trumpets), Zoot Sims, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis(tenor saxes) Al Grey, J.J. Johnson(trombones), Oscar Peterson, Paul Smith(piano), Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen, Keter Betts(bass), Louie Bellson, Martin Drew, Bobby Durham(drums)"