Various Artists

Esquire 2nd Annual All-American Jazz Concert

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AllMusic Review by

This double LP, although not reaching the heights of Esquire magazine's famous jazz concert of the previous year, has a large assortment of interesting performances that originated from three different locations on the same day, with celebrities enlisted to present awards to the Esquire poll-winners. The radio broadcast begins in New Orleans with selections featuring clarinetist Irving Fazola, guitarist Mary Osborne, pianist James P. Johnson and Louis Armstrong. Satch appears with Bunk Johnson on "Basin Street Blues" (their only joint recording) and reunites with Sidney Bechet on "Perdido Street Blues." Switching to New York, the Benny Goodman Sextet is heard on two romps and backing singer Mildred Bailey on "Downhearted Blues." The Los Angeles portion has Duke Ellington's Orchestra as the "house band" with spots for altoist Willie Smith ("Tea for Two"), singer Anita O'Day, pianist Art Tatum, Billie Holiday and guitarist Al Casey. The show concludes with an attempt to have Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman all play "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" together (through a radio hookup) despite being thousands of miles apart. It's a nice try although it is obvious that they were having trouble hearing each other. But overall this is a set that jazz historians will have little trouble enjoying.