Steve Allen was still hosting the original Tonight Show and recorded this LP for Signature to celebrate the move of the program to a new night. Allen is accompanied by an unidentified orchestra or rhythm section (probably musicians from his program) throughout this undated session, which is likely from circa 1959-1960. Allen, who was always modest about his ability as a pianist, keeps the numbers short and sweet. The material ranges from standards ("Laura" and "You're Driving Me Crazy") to jazz classics ("Misty" and "Rosetta") and an unlikely choice, a gently swinging rendition of "The Notre Dame Victory March." Among Allen's originals, the ballad "Houseboat" falls more into pop music of the era, with middle-of-the-road vocals, strings, and no sign of jazz. His best works include "Impossible," a pretty ballad that he was still performing in concerts decades later, and the enchanting "Bell, Book and Candle," written for the bewitching Kim Novak movie of the same name. Though jazz purists frequently reject Steve Allen's recordings out of hand, he left a lasting mark with his promotion of jazz musicians on many of his albums and television series, as well as some terrific compositions that await discovery by a wider audience. This long unavailable record is worth digging through used record bins to acquire.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden