One of the saddest phrases in the English language is “You missed a great party.” Well here’s one we all missed.

In 1957 jazz historian and Harvard/Yale alum Marshall Stearns threw the ultimate jazz-Ivy shindig. Held in honor of sitar player Ravi Shankar, the party juxtaposed Indian music with jazz, and included a jam session with Dizzy Gillespie. LIFE Magazine captured the soirée, which drew the kind of crowd only possible in New York: a dazzling melange of socialites and hipsters, artists and businessmen, with everyone dressed to the nines. Though LIFE only devoted one page to the event in the magazine, the LIFE archives include an extensive photo set entitled “East-West Jam Session.”

Just what kind of party was it? The kind set against a backdrop of modernist sculpture and an enormous record collection:

Where drummers in knit ties and pinned club collars…

… entertained bearded intellectuals:

And where bankers and clergymen…

… rubbed shoulders with finger-poppin’ hepcats:

Where artsy women discussed the “Bhagavad Gita”…

… and surgeons mixed with society matrons…

… while a kimono-clad Japanese woman played the piano:

The kind of party where uptown divas and aspiring novelists…

… bespectacled librarians and Svengali-like philosophers…

Got to hang out with Dizzy Gillespie, who wore his shades and smoked his pipe…

… and everyone had a great time…

… until the party reached its inevitable conclusion.

Special thanks to AldenPyle of Andy’s Trad Forum, a deft LIFE archives searcher, for finding these great shots.

And since we can’t have a post about Dizzy Gillespie without music, here’s Diz’s orchestra doing “The Champ,” which you’ll recognize from “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” — CC

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