Lester Young

Lester Young in Washington D.C. 1956, Vol. 2

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The second installment of four projected volumes, this once again captures latter-day Lester Young in top form, relaxed and playing with impeccable phrasing and swing. Ably backed by the Bill Potts Trio during his week-long stand at Olivia's Patio Lounge in Washington, these live tapes put the lie to the longstanding jazz myth that Young was well past his prime in the final decade of his life.

If anything, this second volume captures even more adventurous playing by Prez, with fast paced takes on his "Jumpin' With Symphony Sid" and "Lester Leaps In." But, as always, Young positively shines on midtempo and ballad material like "Three Little Words," "I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)," "These Foolish Things" and "Almost Like Being In Love." Lester shares much of the soloing space with all three members of the trio, and his swapping of four-bar phrases with drummer Jim Lucht can get a little wearing on repeated listens, but the group provides such a comfortable cushion for him to relax and stretch out that it's a minor niggle at best. This also includes Young's only known full-length treatment of "Lullaby of Birdland," almost worth the price of admission alone. Nobody could swing like Lester Young, and given the right setting and circumstances like he was on these dates, he was evidently swinging right to the end.

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