Skip to comments.Forever Young--A Centennial Tribute
Posted on 08/19/2009 11:49:46 AM PDT by BluesDuke
For the lyricists of the Great American Songbook, it was difficult enough to say "I love you" in 32 bars, expressing all that passion and profundity in one brief chorus. Yet when the legendary tenor saxophonist Lester Young played those same songs, he crammed even more artistry into that same small space. When Young (1909-1959) plays a chorus of a ballador a blues or a riff numberyou hear more than "I love you." You hear babies gurgling, flowers blooming, couples making love, dogs barking, mothers crying to their kids, worlds colliding.
Young, whose centennial arrives on Aug. 27, created a new approach to the saxophone and to jazz in general. His playing was, by turns, lighter and gentler than anything that had come before it, but also capable of driving with tremendous force and energy . . .
. . . A whole school of tenor saxophonists identified themselves as virtual vice presidents, including [Stan] Getz, Wardell Gray and Paul Quinichette (who even billed himself as such). But Young exerted an equally pervasive influence on several generations of jazz and popular singers, both directly and through such key acolytes as [Billie] Holiday and Frank Sinatra, who told Arlene Francis in 1981: "I knew Lester well, we were close friends and we had a mutual admiration society. I took from what he did and he took from what I did" . . .
. . . [M]ost of the time, even in his final years, Young is an irresistible and relentless swingerFred Astaire only wished he could be this light on his feetas on the saxophonist's two original riff anthems, "Lester Leaps In" and "Jumpin' With Symphony Sid." There's no escaping the conclusion that listening to Lester Young makes you happy. Sometimes.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
And how right he was. (And still is.)
Listening to his “Almost Like Being In Love” as I write this. Mercy!
“Lester Swings” is available on Rhapsody. “Lester Leaps In” is also there...
BTW, that trombone with him on “This Year’s Kisses” from “Lester Swings” is Vick Dickenson, who cut early sides with Louis Armstrong, and was a staple over the years with Bobby Hackett. He’s my 2nd favorite trombonist after Jack Teagarden, my third being Trummy Young.