Reed Renaissance is a group brought together just for this session by Jazz Crusade owner, Big Bill Bissonnette. Both reedmen are veterans of the West Coast jazz revival days.
Bob Helm is best known for his work on the front line of the Lu Watters Yerba Buena band and then with Turk Murphy's fine group. George Probert spent his years with Kid Ory and later with the Firehouse Five. Although dis-similar in style, the two have plenty of space to engage each other without having to allow room for piano and drums.
Certainly, this is an unorthodox approach but it works very well. The quartet breezes their way through a dozen great old tunes with the two reed players sharing the lead. Then each is given one showpiece to strut their stuff. George Probert chose "These Foolish Things" while Bob Helm picked "You're Lucky to Me". Though both musicians have been honored guests at various jazz festivals during their retirement years, this is the only time they have recorded together.
Jazz purists will enjoy this unusual pairing of old timers. Their solos are at times, somewhat tentative, and we must appreciate the fact that Bob Helm was 82 and Probert was 70 at the time of this 1996 session. The rhythm section holds everything together and the up-tempo numbers find the veterans more at ease.
The staff of Jazz Review would like to take a moment to wish Jazz Crusade's Big Bill Bissonnette a speedy recovery from recent surgery. Up and at 'em Bill!