Newstalgia Downbeat with the Timex All-Star Jazz Concert. First in a series hosted by Steve Allen with the venerable John Cameron Swayze and Timex (takes a licking and still keeps ticking) watches. Recorded on December 29, 1957 (according to the NBC transcription labels).
July 3, 2011

Louis Armstrong - one of the luminaries on this first-ever network Jazz concert.

I'm not entirely sure this being touted as "the first Network Jazz concert on Television" is accurate, as I think CBS may have had that distinction a year or two earlier. But I'm sure it sounded good in the press releases and, truths to tell, it was a star-studded lineup that promised more on a regular basis. Hosted by then-King of Late Night Television Steve Allen (he was the first Tonight Show host) with venerable pitch-man John Cameron Swayze for Timex (takes a licking and keeps on ticking) watches, it was a one hour extravaganza.

Packed with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, Jack Teagarden, June Christy and a host of others, it was one solid hour of wall-to-wall Jazz at a time when Rock n' Roll was threatening to eclipse the popular music market and Jazz was making a stand.

I believe this concert has been preserved and is available on video. These however, are the original transcription discs made by NBC engineers as a reference recording and so the sound quality may be a bit better.

In any event, if you've never heard this concert before, here's a good opportunity to hear what was going on in 1957 as far as the more mainstream Jazz practitioners were concerned. If you have heard this concert before, maybe this one sounds a bit better. You decide.

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