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Forever Young--A Centennial Tribute
The Wall Street Journal ^ | 19 August 2009 | Will Friedwald

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 ballad—or a blues or a riff number—you 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 swinger—Fred Astaire only wished he could be this light on his feet—as 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 ...


TOPICS: Music/Entertainment
KEYWORDS: jazz
"I sing lyrics with my horn."---Lester Young.

And how right he was. (And still is.)

1 posted on 08/19/2009 11:49:47 AM PDT by BluesDuke
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To: BluesDuke

Listening to his “Almost Like Being In Love” as I write this. Mercy!


2 posted on 08/19/2009 11:58:42 AM PDT by bcsco (How's that hopey-changey thing going?)
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To: bcsco
I was listening to him have a blow with "Lester Leaps In," a live performance when Count Basie reunited Young and other members of his pre-1950s band for a set at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival. I'm also hoping Verve will reissue Lester Swings, an album they put out in the 1980s that featured, mostly, a series of sides Young cut with Nat (King) Cole on piano and Buddy Rich on drums. It almost didn't matter what size group he worked with. Lester Young would have been Lester Young even if he'd had a quintet of bamboo marimba players to work with. .
3 posted on 08/19/2009 12:13:29 PM PDT by BluesDuke (If you think it's wise to fool Mother Nature, just ask Father Time's divorce lawyer)
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To: BluesDuke

“Lester Swings” is available on Rhapsody. “Lester Leaps In” is also there...


4 posted on 08/19/2009 12:23:45 PM PDT by bcsco (How's that hopey-changey thing going?)
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To: BluesDuke

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.


5 posted on 08/19/2009 1:59:43 PM PDT by bcsco (How's that hopey-changey thing going?)
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To: bcsco
Jack Teagarden's a favourite of mine among the bone men, in hand with Tricky Sam Nanton, Bob Brookmeyer, Lawrence Brown, Curtis Fuller (played the bone on Coltrane's Blue Train, and Jimmy Knepper (played with Charles Mingus for many years)
6 posted on 08/19/2009 2:27:40 PM PDT by BluesDuke (If you think it's wise to fool Mother Nature, just ask Father Time's divorce lawyer)
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