The First Esquire Jazz Concert was an all-star event held in 1944 at the Metropolitan Opera House to honor winners (including first and second place honorees) in the magazine's jazz poll. In addition to being broadcast, it was preserved on transcription discs and reissued many times over the years with different excerpts of the evening's program. Some of the highlights include "Sweet Lorraine" (Art Tatum with Al Casey, Oscar Pettiford, and Sid Catlett), "Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me" and "Billie's Blues" (Billie Holiday), and a lengthy jam on "I Got Rhythm" featuring Red Norvo (on xylophone), Coleman Hawkins, Louis Armstrong, Barney Bigard, Jack Teagarden, and Roy Eldridge with the rhythm section. At times the piano is not clearly heard and there are brief interruptions by the broadcast host to introduce some of the soloists, but the sound quality is quite remarkable for the period.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden