"An amazing concert!" raved Philip Elwood, dean of jazz critics on the West Coast in his full-page review of this set in the San Francisco Examiner.
"This is red-hot history in sound, a never-repeated summit of American music-makers that has achieved a deservedly legendary status," wrote John Ardoin in The Dallas Morning News.
In a lengthy essay review in ARSC Journal, critic James Fisher said, "No serious collection of American music should be without this enjoyable set-the listener will find it an endless source of pleasure in its reflection of the glories of a charmingly innocent era."
At the heart of this collection is the evening concert held 24 September 1940 at the California Coliseum in San Francisco in connection with the Golden Gate International Exposition. The program was called "A Cavalcade of American Music by Those Who Make America's Music." More than 15,000 persons jammed the hall (designed to hold only 12,000!). The performers embodied the most important half-century in the history of American music. From heart song to jitterbug the era saw the creation of ragtime, jazz and blues as popular art forms.
In those days there were songs for everyone young or old and a song in any style could be a hit. The music had mass appeal and time and again the concert audience spontaneously joined in to sing the songs they knew and loved. The collection is replete with extremely rare appearances by giants of popular entertainment. To take just one example, in 1911 George M. Cohan (1878-1942) made his only commercial recordings. They don't do him justice and he didn't record any of his big hits. With the medley included in this collection, we hear him singing his greatest songs, "Give My Regards to Broadway" and "Yankee Doodle Boy" from Little Johnny Jones (1904), "You're a Grand Old Flag" from George Washington Jr. (1906) and, as an encore, "Over There" (1917). The great jazz musician W.C. Handy describes this concert as "a program that was never before nor can ever again be duplicated this side of kingdom come."