This is the highly praised 1957 CBS-TV telecast that brought together Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Count Basie, Billie Holiday and other greats into the living rooms of America for the first time. Not only was the show -- originally telecast as an episode of CBS's Seven Lively Arts series -- a massive critical and popular success, the music still sounds every bit as exciting as it seemed on that original broadcast. Kicking off with two tracks from the Red Allen All Stars, the set moves onto Billie Holiday's smoky rendition of "Fine and Mellow," which features fine solo work from Prez, Webster, Doc Cheatham, Hawk, and Vic Dickenson. The show also brought together such odd combinations as old fig Pee Wee Russell and bopper Jimmy Giuffre dueting on clarinet, backed only Danny Baker's acoustic guitar and Jo Jones' in-the-pocket drumming. Giuffre appears later with his regular trio of Jim Hall on guitar and Jim Atlas on bass doing "The Train and the River," while pianist Mal Waldron solos on "Nervous." The capper of the set is two tracks from the Count Basie All-Stars featuring alumni like Prez, Jimmy Rushing, Jo Jones, and Freddy Green, augmented by such luminaries as Hawk, Dickenson, Harry Carney, Roy Eldridge, Dickie Wells, and Doc Cheatham. Mixed in true stereo, this is one feast for the ears and, for many, jazz's greatest moment on the tube.
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AllMusic Review by Cub Koda