Lester Young

Live! From the Royal Roost

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Lester Young is heard in a pair of radio airchecks, though only one of the two is from 1948, a year in which the tenor saxophonist did no recording and only two documented radio broadcasts. The first four tracks are actually from a 1949 aircheck from the Royal Roost, with trumpeter Jesse Drakes, trombonist Jerry Elliott, and pianist Junior Mance. "D.B. Blues," whose title refers to an unpleasant part of Young's brief stint in the military service (referring to the detention barracks at Fort Gordon, GA), is a peppy riff tune, while "Just You, Just Me" is played at practically a racehorse tempo and disputes the idea that Young was already faltering as a soloist at this stage of his career. The December 1948 air check from the same location substitutes Ted Kelly on trombone and Freddy Jefferson on piano, with Young delivering a solid take of "I Cover the Waterfront," a Latin-flavored "How High the Moon," and a very brisk treatment of "Sunday," highlighted by the leader's impressive solo. The drummer on both occasions is the always-dependable Roy Haynes. The sound quality is quite good for airchecks from this era, since all of the instruments can be heard and there are no incomplete takes or obnoxious radio personalities talking over the music, so this 2000 reissue of material previously issued on LP by Session Disc and the Charlie Parker label is worth acquiring, though the packaging doesn't make the precise order of the songs clear.

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