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…
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
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
“Great Encounters” are book excerpts that chronicle famous encounters among twentieth-century cultural icons. This edition tells the story of Lester Young getting high with Jack Kerouac, and his overall influence on his generation
Throughout his career, this saxophonist was known as the “Vice Prez” because he sounded so similar to Lester Young. Who was he?
Go to the next page for the answer!
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 »
Sometimes he was cool like an eternal
blue flame burning in the old Kansas
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
[…] Continue reading »
Lester Young was the “Pres.” Who became known as the “Vice Pres?”
Lou Donaldson […] Continue reading »
Jerry Jazz Musician presents a number of editions of “Masters of Jazz Photography,” featuring a work by one of the photographers featured in The Jazz Image, by Lee Tanner.
This edition: Gjon Mili
[…] Continue reading »
Jerry Jazz Musician presents a number of editions of “Masters of Jazz Photography,” featuring a work by one of the photographers featured in Lee Tanner’s The Jazz Image.
This edition: Bob Parent, featuring photos of Benny Goodman, Clifford Brown, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Billie Holiday and Lester Young