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!

...

June 13th, 2018

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

...

June 9th, 2017

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

...

March 30th, 2017

Great Encounters #48: When Lester Young turned Jack Kerouac on to marijuana

“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

...

March 4th, 2017

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

...

January 26th, 2015

“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

...

June 30th, 2014

Monday Jazz Quiz #24: Lester Young was the “Pres.” Who became known as the “Vice Pres?”

Lester Young was the “Pres.” Who became known as the “Vice Pres?”

Paul Quinichette

Dexter Gordon

Hank Crawford

Paul Gonsalves

Don Byas

Johnny Griffin

Arnett Cobb

Lou Donaldson

...

February 3rd, 2014

Masters of Jazz Photography — Gjon Mili

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

...

January 29th, 2014

Masters of Jazz Photography — Bob Parent

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

...

December 17th, 2013

Kansas City Jazz: A Pictorial Tour

In cooperation with Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix, authors of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop — a look at the fascinating historyof Kansas City’s golden age through book excerpts, photos and music

...

April 15th, 2013

In This Issue

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.

Features

In this edition of Reminiscing in Tempo,, Chick Corea, Rickie Lee Jones, Tom Piazza, Gary Giddins, Randy Brecker, Michael Cuscuna, Terry Teachout and many others answer the question, “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite recordings of the 1940’s?”

Interviews

Interview with Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins, author of the new book "Swinging on a Star: The War Years, 1940 - 1946"

Poetry

Eight poets — John Stupp, Aurora Lewis, Michael L. Newell, Robert Nisbet, Alan Yount, Roger Singer, dan smith and Joan Donovan — write about the era of World War II

The Joys of Jazz

Award winning radio producer and host Bob Hecht shares his love of jazz through his podcasts on his site “The Joys of Jazz.” In this edition, he tells two stories; the history of the virtual anthem of World War II, “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and the friendship and musical rapport of Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong.

Short Fiction

Hannah Draper of Ottawa, Ontario is the winner of the 49th Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award. Her story is titled "Will You Play For Me?"

Coming Soon

Three prominent scholars in a conversation about the lives of Billie Holiday, Ralph Ellison, and Langston Hughes (pictured)

Contributing writers

Site Archive