While similar collections on the Classics and Verve labels provide the best first-disc option for Lester Young's vintage sides, this estimable disc offers a nice array of the tenor giant's output from his prime 1939-1942 stretch. The 18-track set includes gems featuring the Count Basie-heavy Kansas City Six ("Pagin' the Devil," "Good Morning Blues") and combos graced by both jump blues-esque pianist Sammy Price and the golden Nat King Cole. And for classic jazz and blues vocal fans, the lovely Una Mae Carlisle breaks up the instrumental booty with a handful of rousing performances. What about Young's solos, you may ask? Well, from chestnuts like "Body and Soul" to such novelties as "Blitzkrieg Baby (You Can't Bomb Me)," he delivers a consistent flow of sensuous, bittersweet lines and seraphic tenor atmospherics. Maybe not a bad place to start after all.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook