Recorded at Carnegie Hall, New York on September 25, 1954 except Disc 2 tracks 15-19 probably recorded at Birdland on December 16, 1954. Includes liner notes by Stanley Dance.
There is a great deal of worthy and often historic music on this double CD. Most of the performances are taken from a Sept. 25, 1954 Carnegie Hall concert. Count Basie's Orchestra is in superb form on their seven selections; tenors Frank Foster and Frank Wess in particular blow up a storm. Billie Holiday (backed by the Basie band and pianist Carl Drinkard) is a bit out of it on her six numbers, sometimes getting remarkably far behind the beat. Charlie Parker, in a quartet with pianist John Lewis, bassist Percy Heath and drummer Kenny Clarke, is also a bit sub-par on his two numbers but Lester Young, having a rare reunion with the Basie orchestra, is wonderful on an emotional "Pennies from Heaven" and a cookin' "Jumpin' at the Woodside." The second half of the concert features Sarah Vaughan (backed at first by the Basie band and then by her trio) in wondrous form on a jazz-oriented set. She has rarely sounded better. This set concludes with the Basie band live at Birdland on Dec. 1, 1954 welcoming Stan Getz to sit in on five enjoyable numbers. ~ Scott Yanow