This 22-track compilation makes for a commendable jaunt through some of the Climax Blues Band's best material. It may not be the most comprehensive set available, but it does manage to excerpt songs from some of the group's better albums. Led by the Number Nine hit "Couldn't Get It Right" (Number Ten in the U.K.), this compilation package takes the essential cuts from their most significant releases, including their self-titled debut album from 1968, when they were known as the Climax Chicago Blues Band, as well as 1971's Tightly Knit; 1972's Rich Man; and 1976's Gold Plated, which heralded both "Berlin Blues" and "Everyday." The band gained prominence with the fiery saxophone playing of Colin Cooper, and the slick but resounding guitar work of Peter Haycock, making tracks like "Reap What I've Sowed," "Looking for My Baby," and the ever-so-strange "Mole in the Dole" standouts on this set.
This is a mostly straightahead jazz date by pianist Hilton Ruiz that achieves some variety by alternating the instrumentation. The pianist/leader adds percussionist Daniel Ponce to some numbers (such as "Doin' It Right") for some Latin-jazz, jams with his trio (which also includes bassist Jimmy Rowser and drummer Steve Berrios) and pays tribute to both Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell. Don Cherry sits in on his muted trumpet for the ballad "Misty Moods" and the minor-keyed "Scottish Blues" but his solos wander and his intonation is shaky. Much better is Ruiz's unaccompanied exploration of "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" and a quartet version of his original "The Blessing." Other than Cherry's appearances, this is a satisfying modern mainstream set.