Lester Young

In Washington, D.C. 1956, Vol. 5

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While many critics have written off Lester Young's recordings from his last years leading up to his death in 1959, this previously unissued collection of material recorded at Olivia's Patio Lounge in Washington, D.C. in December, 1956 proves that he was still very much in command. Joined by a local rhythm section consisting of pianist Bill Potts, bassist Norman Williams and drummer Jim Lucht, the tenor saxophonist is still swinging mightily and in full control of his chops. There aren't really any surprises among the selections, which draw from Young's favorite standards and a few of his most requested compositions. Trombonist Earl Swope, a sideman with Woody Herman, is an added guest on the last four selections, providing an excellent foil for Young. Potts' foresight in recording this extended gig, in spite of Young's exclusive contract with Norman Granz's Verve label, was validated when Granz eventually issued the material on his Pablo label. But even though the fourth volume was supposedly the last (according to Granz's reproduced liner notes), evidently this final collection of material was uncovered after he sold Pablo to Fantasy and it saw the light of day for the first time in 1998.

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