Esquire Jazz All Stars* ‎– Esquire Jazz Concert - Metropolitan Opera House 18 January 1944

Chrisly Records ‎– CR 80003
2 × CD, Compilation



(P) 1998


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March 11, 2014
This historic concert, which among other things includes some of Billie's best singing, indeed constituted the high-water mark in pre-bop jazz. Unfortunately, every version issued commercially seems to butcher the order of the songs. I don't have the original program, but after careful listening it seems to me that most of the songs were on a non-broadcast program hosted by Leonard Feather, and only a few (6, including the intro mislabeled "We All Drink Coca-Cola") were included in an AFRS broadcast that immediately followed. The AFRS announcer's voice is unmistakably different from Feather's, and it's reasonable to think that the songs they broadcast to a national audience would be the less adventurous ones; they are the last 5 songs on CD 1. By carefully listening to the applause at the end of each track, I've rearranged the songs in my collection into what I think is a more accurate approximation of what was actually heard that night (including Benny Goodman's "Rachel's Dream" which apparently functioned as an intermission piece and is not included in this version). Again, I don't know for sure, but it seems to me that the national anthem would have been played at the start of the concert, not the end, and while far from the best performance in the bunch, it is tremendously entertaining to hear Louis having a go at it. I can post my track order if anyone's interested.