Count Basie is heard in a relatively rare small-group session with longtime guitarist Freddie Green, drummer Sonny Payne, and bassist Norman Keenan. Without seeing the video of Count Basie's television appearance on Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual (which is available on both VHS and DVD from Rhino), it is impossible to realize why so many of the pianist's performances end so abruptly. The problem is that the host parked himself comfortably close to the piano throughout the show, disrupting things somewhat, which is strange since Gleason had already produced quite a few shows prior to this 1968 telecast. Several of the pieces are very enjoyable untitled improvised blues, while "Handful of Keys," "Squeeze Me," and "If I Could Be With You" all end far too soon. Regardless of the frustration with the brevity of the songs heard, Gleason does elicit some interesting comments during the interview segments. Basie fans will ignore the program's flaws and enjoy a rare chance to hear the pianist away from his big band. Lambert, Hendricks & Bavan show a surprising lack of ego during their 29-minute broadcast, as the first two pieces are an instrumental blues by pianist Gildo Mahones (with bassist George Tucker and drummer Jimmy Smith) and the lively gospel-flavored "Another Get Together," a feature for soprano saxophonist Pony Poindexter with the Mahones Trio. Following Gleason's enlightening interview with Jon Hendricks, the chemistry of the singers is superb in "This Could Be the Start of Something Big," while Yolanda Bavan's superb scatting in "Shiny Stockings" is the set's highlight. Because of the relatively few recordings by Lambert, Hendricks & Bavan (they broke up just two years after Bavan replaced Annie Ross), fans of vocalese will welcome the addition of this previously unavailable recording to their brief discography.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden