The 26 tracks on the first disc are narrated by Jerome and cover the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s. The opening group, performing "Stompin’ At The Savoy," was from a New York TV station house band he led in the 1950s, featuring Tyree Glenn on vibes and Don Costa on guitar. A 1944 studio group featured his tenor with trumpeter Yank Lawson, Ray Coniff on trombone, pianist Johnny Guarnieri and drummer Bill Wettling. Charlie Shavers joins for a later 1944 date and Charlie Christian and Jerome share a 1939 after-hours jam at a hotel in Minneapolis on which bassist Oscar Pettiford is also heard. This is music that has never been released before.
There are a couple of cuts with Teddy Wilson ("Emaline" and "Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams") that show off his chops superbly. Wilson’s pretty impressive, too, needless to say. One of the great treats here has another legendary pianist on the bandstand with Jerome. Performing a private party for the president of speaker manufacturer British Industries in early 1964, Jerome was asked to hire the band. He brought in Charlie Shavers (trumpet), Arvell Shaw (bass), Duke Ellington trombonist Lawrence Brown, drummer Mousie Alexander and the great Hank Jones on piano. He said, "It was a blast and we all swung our asses off!" His work on tenor and clarinet on this previously unreleased "I Found A New Baby" confirms that decisively.
The disc is full of impressive sessions, not only for name recognition, of course, but for first-rate blowing. Just check his version of the warhorse "Georgia." This is a great tenor player at work. Jerome traveled in very rare company, and was the equal to every musician he shared the stage with. The playing here is superb, as is evidenced by the breadth of styles and eras covered.
The second disc of the set features Jerome on a dozen cuts recorded in March 2001, just shy of his 89th birthday. He’s joined by Tommy Newsome (tenor), Lou Colombo (trumpet, flugelhorn), John Allred (trombone), Dick Hyman (piano), Frank Tate (bass), Bob Leary (guitar), Ed Metz, Jr. (drums) and Lynn Roberts on vocals. Most of Jerome’s solos are brief, but well developed and performed. The band mates carry the bulk of the weight, but Jerry Jerome carries his own just fine. The tenor on "These Foolish Things" is played absolutely heartbreakingly beautifully by Jerome alone. He has sole tenor rights on "The More I See You," with Roberts’ vocals, as well, though with less conviction.
If you tell the average jazz fan that you recommend a CD by an 89 year-old saxophonist, a few odd cast glances might follow. This is such a disc and it’s recommended. And certainly the first disc of the set, featuring Jerry Jerome in his prime, is highly recommended, particularly as it offers a number of previously unreleased taped recordings from his own collection. This is rich. Most definitely. Jerry Jerome died in November, 2001 at 89.