Lester Young

The Master's Touch [Savoy 1944]

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This Savoy compilation features previously unheard recordings by Lester "Pres" Young, one of the greatest tenor saxophonists in jazz history. All taken from sessions recorded in the 1940's, Pres is teamed up with many legends in their own right including trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison and the inimitable pianist/band leader Count Basie.

This album features multiple takes (four versions of "Salute to Fats" for example) in a wide-ranging survey of Young's early to middle years. Standout tracks include "Ding Dong," an uptempo burner that highlights the fine drumming of Cozy Cole and "Blues 'N Bells," a medium bounce that highlights trombonist Jerry Elliot on a short but superb solo. Count Basie's sparse yet melodic piano solo on "Indiana" is also quite majestic. Pres himself shines throughout, but particularly on "Poor Little Plaything" and "Exercise in Swing." The former showcases Young's section work (in a big band) as well as an endearing vocal performance by Earl Warren. A comprehensive look at Young's '40's output, MEMORIAL has many intriguing and memorable musical moments.

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