photo by Susanne Schapowalow
“I’ll always remember when I first heard Lester. I’d never heard anyone like him before. He was a stylist with a different sound. A sound I’d never heard before or since. To be honest with you I didn’t like it much at first.
“When Prez first came to me at the Reno Club in Kansas City it was like nothing we’d ever heard. And it was consistent. In all the years he was with our band he never had a bad night. No matter what happened to him personally, he never showed it in his playing. I can only remember him as being beautiful.”
– Count Basie
It’s never a bad idea to listen to Lester Young, and to be reminded of the complexity of his life, and of his enormous impact on American music and culture. I ran into this wonderful one hour lecture by his biographer, Douglas Daniels — at the time professor of history and black studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara — that you may enjoy:
I was fortunate to interview Mr. Daniels in 2002, when his biography was released. You can read it by clicking here. Additionally, there is an excellent piece by blogger Andrew Green focused on Young’s solo on Basie’s 1936 recording of “Lady Be Good”. Click here to read it.
Some classic clips of Lester Young and others…
The cover of a 1956 album (this one a German release) simply titled “Pres”