A Lester Young interlude…

March 23rd, 2018

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”




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In This Issue

This issue features a roundtable discussion about how the world of religion may have impacted the creative lives of Billie Holiday, Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison. Also, previous winners of the Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest reflect on their winning story; three new podcasts from Bob Hecht; new collection of poetry; recommendations of recently released jazz recordings, and lots more.

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"The Wailing Wall" -- a short story by Justin Short


Three prominent religious scholars -- Wallace Best, Tracy Fessenden and M. Cooper Harriss -- join us in a conversation about how the world of religion during the life and times of Langston Hughes (pictured), Billie Holiday and Ralph Ellison helps us better comprehend the meaning of their work.


Nine poets contribute ten poems celebrating jazz in poems as unique as the music itself

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In celebration of our upcoming 50th Short Fiction Contest, previous contest winners (dating to 2002) reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

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In this edition, award winning radio producer Bob Hecht tells three stories; 1) on Charlie Christian, the first superstar of jazz guitar; 2) the poet Langston Hughes’ love of jazz music, and 3) a profile of the song “Strange Fruit”

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25 recently released jazz tunes that are worth listening to…including Bobo Stenson; Medeski, Martin and Wood; Muriel Grossman and Rudy Royston


Chick Corea, Rickie Lee Jones, Gary Giddins, Michael Cuscuna, Randy Brecker and Tom Piazza are among those responding to our question, "What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz recordings of the 1940's?"


"Billie Holiday" -- a poem (with collage) by Steve Dalachinsky

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This issue features an interview with Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins; a collection of poetry devoted to the World War II era; and a new edition of “Reminiscing in Tempo,” in which the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz recordings of the 1940’s” is posed to Rickie Lee Jones, Chick Corea, Tom Piazza and others.

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