Lester Young

Lester Leaps In [ASV/Living Era]

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AllMusic Review by

This is the first leg of the Lester Young story, covering his exciting years as Count Basie's star tenor saxophonist and master of the metal clarinet. Opening with Young's very first appearances on record in 1936, the compilation boasts several vivid selections by the Count Basie Orchestra, examples of the gentle, relaxed intimacy of Billie Holiday and Pres with Teddy Wilson's band, and several outstanding instrumental small-group jams either led by or simply graced with the presence of Lester Young. These include the famous Kansas City Five and Six on the Commodore label, the Benny Goodman Sextet ("without Goodman" but with Charlie Christian), and various masterworks originally issued on both the Savoy and Keynote labels. There's no real adherence to a strict chronology -- the producers of this compilation were obviously aiming for playback textural ambience rather than concise sequential context. After wading into the cream of Young's work from the early '40s, the focus abruptly lurches back to the late '30s with vintage stomps and swing by Basie's orchestra and the Kansas City Six. Here, then, is a good introduction to Lester Young as he sounded in his prime. The only glaring fault occurs in the enclosed discography; the drummer on "Sometimes I'm Happy" and "Afternoon of a Basie-ite," recorded for Harry Lim's Keynote label in December of 1943, was Sidney Cattlet, not Jo Jones.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:59
2 3:06
3 2:31
4 1:46
5 2:49
6 3:09
7 3:02
8 2:40
9 3:12
10 3:21
11 3:04
12 3:07
13 4:24
14 3:14
15 2:50
16 3:19
17 3:26
18 3:22
19 3:15
20 3:06
21 2:54
22 2:51
23 2:54
24 3:03
blue highlight denotes track pick