This CD contains sessions the inimitable Lester Young recorded with the Kansas City Six, Johnny Guarnieri's Swing Men, and Earle Warren & His Orchestra. As the perfunctory title states, this music all stems from 1944, a period in Pres' career that could be referred to as his middle years. If one considers Young's first real professional achievement to be his work with Walter Page's Blue Devils in 1930, we then must recognize that his 29-year career was all too short.
Still, the tenor legend "got around," as it were, and luckily many fine recordings of his work remain, this compilation being one of them. Highlights on VOLUME 5: 1944 include Dicky Wells' arrangement of "Tush" with the Earle Warren Orchestra, and "Four O'Clock Drag" as performed with the Kansas City Six. The latter features, in addition to Young's cool-toned solo, the superb bluesy trumpet work of Bill Coleman. From this recording, it's easy to see how influential Young was on the world of saxophone. Indeed luminaries such as Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, and others owe their humble beginnings to Young.