Posts tagged “lester young”

Quiz Show » Jazz History Quiz

Jazz History Quiz #114

While legendary as a saxophonist, his first instrument was a violin and his second the piano — which he played well enough to work as an accompanist to silent movies.  Ultimately it was Lester Young’s father who taught him the saxophone well enough that he switched instruments for good.  (It was during this time that he also saved Lester from drowning in a river).  Who is he?

 

Ben Webster

Chu Berry

Gene Ammons

Budd Johnson

Coleman Hawkins

Johnny Hodges

Don Byas

Herschel Evans

Go to the next page for the answer!

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Features » Book Excerpts

How Billie became “Lady Day”

Having just published Arya Jenkins’ excellent new short story “Foolish Love,” in which Billie Holiday’s music plays a central role in the life of the story’s main character, this piece, excerpted from Bill Crow’s 1990 book, Jazz Anecdotes, is a wonderful reminder of how Ms. Holiday became known as “Lady Day.”  The story is set up by Crow and stories about nicknames created by “Prez.”

 

__________

 

Lester Young made up names for many of his friends, and everyone used them.  He called Count Basie “The Holy Man,” (shortened by the band to “Holy”) because he was the

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Features » A Moment in Time

A Moment in Time: Billie Holiday in Studio 58, New York, December 8, 1957

In Martin Torgoff’s brilliant new book Bop Apocalypse — an extensive exploration of the connections of jazz, literature and drugs, and how drugs impacted the lives and work of people like Charlie Parker, Jack Kerouac, Lester Young, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg — Torgoff devotes a chapter to Billie Holiday’s struggle with drug abuse, and the public airing of it when her 1956 autobiography Lady Sings the Blues was published.  

While her book had errors that have since caused critics and biographers to cast doubt on the book’s veracity, as Torgoff writes, in many respects, “the book is remarkably frank about her early years in Baltimore and her time as a prostitute.  It is also replete with information about her

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Quiz Show » Jazz History Quiz

Jazz History Quiz #80

Throughout his career, this saxophonist was known as the “Vice Prez” because he sounded so similar to Lester Young. Who was he?

Earl Bostic

Paul Quinichette

Ben Webster

Coleman Hawkins

Johnny Hodges

Arnett Cobb

Herschel Evans

Go to the next page for the answer!

[…] Continue reading »

Features » Book Excerpts

Johnny Otis on Lester Young and the racism that territory bands encountered

In his 1993 book Upside Your Head! Rhythm and Blues on Central Avenue, the jazz and blues musician and impresario Johnny Otis writes primarily about the music scene in Los Angeles during the 40’s and 50’s. Otis — who discovered the likes of Big Mama Thornton, Jackie Wilson and Etta James, and who is considered one of the most prominent white figures in the history of R & B — also devotes substantial portions of his book to the toxic white racism so prevalent in American entertainment in the first half of the 20th Century.

The following excerpt — which begins and ends with an homage to Otis friend Lester Young — describes the experience of […] Continue reading »

Literature

“LESTER YOUNG” — a poem by Ted Joans

Sometimes he was cool like an eternal
blue flame burning in the old Kansas
City nunnery
Sometimes he was happy ’til he’d think
about his birth place and its blood
stained clay hills and crow-filled trees
Most times he was blowin’ on the wonderful
tenor sax of his, preachin’ in very cool
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