Lester Young
American musician
Lester Young
Lester Willis Young, nicknamed "Pres" or "Prez", was an American jazz tenor saxophonist and clarinetist. He also played trumpet, violin, and drums. Coming to prominence while a member of Count Basie's orchestra, Young was one of the most influential players on his instrument.
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Lester Young's personal information overview.
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MUSIC REVIEW; Elaine Stritch at Café Carlyle - Review
NYTimes - over 5 years
Had Elaine Stritch sung “I’m Still Here” at Café Carlyle on Tuesday night, it would have seemed redundant. The mere presence of this lean, glaring lion of a woman in a white shirt and black tights, clenching her fists, said everything about resilience, feisty determination and the will to continue that is voiced in a
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CHICAGO NEWS COOPERATIVE; A Home Where 'Strike Up the Band' Is No Idle Order
NYTimes - over 5 years
Saxophonists are collectors; it's an occupational hazard. They amass boxes of reeds to find one that works perfectly; their closets bulge with the secondary saxes, clarinets and flutes they are expected to play in bands and orchestras. And if the home of a professional saxophonist often resembles a small-town music shop of decades past, with
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Von 'Deep Jazz' bis Bossa Nova - sueddeutsche.de
Google News - over 5 years
Der Musik des genialen GespannsBillie Holliday und Lester Young widmet sich das Quintett der Sängerin Annette Neuffer (25. bis 27. August), das nur eine halbe Woche hat, weil im August stets Geiger Hannes Beckmann mit musikalischen Freunden seinen
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Bill Morrissey, 59, folk troubadour | Philadelphia Inquirer | 2011-07-26 - Philadelphia Inquirer
Google News - over 5 years
... studied the great folk artists of the 1960s, as well as the American music embodied by bluesmen Mississippi John Hurt and Robert Johnson, country singer Hank Williams, and Kansas City jazz and swing musicians like Count Basie and Lester Young
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Music too cool to be bothered by the heat of a summer Sunday - Buffalo News
Google News - over 5 years
A melodic player, Johnstone gave a great swing to “September in the Rain,” a song associated with Lester Young. A little more good news about Barbara Jean, the “girl singer.” Her originals, and this is high praise, are actually good
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Creating Uncommon Vibes
NYTimes - over 5 years
OVER the last year I thought a lot about two albums by young jazz musicians: ''Sun Rooms,'' by Jason Adasiewicz, and ''Waking Dreams,'' by Chris Dingman. Both are vibraphonists, Mr. Adasiewicz from Chicago, Mr. Dingman from New York. They're both seekers, both invading the space between free improvisation and the consensual mainstream jazz
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David Kastin: Putting a Life into the Context of History - JazzTimes Magazine
Google News - over 5 years
It can be tough to introduce people like Parker, Monk, Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins and then stop the narrative to explain why they were important. Jazz fans have an instant recognition and shorthand knowledge of these powerful and divergent
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Beck moves Jerusalem rally off the Temple Mount - Salon
Google News - over 5 years
He told us: "Like the late great Lester Young, Carr has his own lingo that is part street poetry and part secret-code, and you'd need a hepcat's dream-book thesaurus (as yet unpublished) to fully discern what he actually says much of the time."
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The man who invented festivals - Financial Times
Google News - over 5 years
Wein's first bill included Billie Holiday re-uniting with Lester Young and, innovatively, had traditionalists and modernists sharing the same bill. “It was like a convention of the whole jazz world,” he said. “Everybody came: managers, agents,
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All-Stars are looking forward to Kansas City next year - msnbc.com
Google News - over 5 years
I am here to rectify Craig's unpardonable failure to mention that KC is one of the greatest jazz towns in America – the original home of Charlie Parker, the Blue Devils, Count Basie, Lester Young – and home of the Museum of Jazz, which features,
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Rebecca Kilgore Performs SOME LIKE IT HOT At Feinstein's - Broadway World
Google News - over 5 years
Her many recordings include the recently released Live at Feinstein's at Loews Regency, which celebrates the musical collaboration of Billie Holliday and Lester Young." In The New York Times, Stephen Holden called the show "a sexy, lighthearted dance"
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A few blues things, and some history - Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Google News - over 5 years
... some classic musicians like the blues pianist and singer Jay McShann and bandleader Count Basie in reliving the days of the big band era, focusing on a band called the Blue Devils, which featured players like McShann and sax giant Lester Young
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A teenage Charlie Parker has a cymbal thrown at him - The Guardian
Google News - almost 6 years
She gave her son his first sax when he was 13, and the following year Charlie was hanging out in the city's clubland listening to his saxophone hero Lester Young and others while Addie was at work as a night cleaner. He mostly skipped formal education,
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Sleepless in San Diego - San Diego CityBEAT
Google News - almost 6 years
I don't go to these places, and I can't vouch for their safety or boogiosity, but it's good to know that someone is dancing somewhere in town at 3:30 am while I'm driving on the empty freeway listening to Lester Young. Shopping: There are several
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A Last Weekend of Virtuosos and Visionaries - Wall Street Journal
Google News - almost 6 years
Louis Armstrong, Lester Young and Charlie Parker were all avant-garde in their day. Most Vision artists aren't trying to change the course of music, they just want to find their own unique ways of expressing themselves. It occurred to me, as I listened
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The Stan Getz Sound - Legacy.com
Google News - almost 6 years
That same year Getz settled down in Los Angeles to play in Stan Kenton's band, but quit when Kenton criticized the music of Lester Young as “too simple.” Getz also played with Jimmy Dorsey and Benny Goodman and was already a heavy drinker when during
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Lester Young
    FORTIES
  • 1959
    Age 49
    Lester Young made his final studio recordings and live performances in Paris in March 1959 with drummer Kenny Clarke at the tail end of an abbreviated European tour during which he ate next to nothing and drank heavily.
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  • 1957
    Age 47
    On December 8, 1957, Young appeared with Billie Holiday, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Roy Eldridge, and Gerry Mulligan in the CBS television special The Sound of Jazz, performing Holiday's tune "Fine and Mellow."
    More Details Hide Details It was a reunion with Holiday, with whom he had lost contact over the years. She was also in physical decline, near the end of her career, and they both gave moving performances. Young's solo was brilliant, considered by many jazz musicians an unparalleled marvel of economy, phrasing and extraordinarily moving emotion. But Young seemed gravely ill, and was the only horn player who was seated (except during his solo) during the performance. By this time his alcoholism had cumulative effect. He was eating significantly less, drinking more and more, and suffering from liver disease and malnutrition. Young's sharply diminished physical strength in the final two years of his life yielded some recordings with a frail tone, shortened phrases, and, on rare occasions, a difficulty in getting any sound to come out of his horn at all.
    The best-known of these is their July 1957 appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival, the line-up including many of his colleagues: Jo Jones, Roy Eldridge, Illinois Jacquet and Jimmy Rushing.
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  • 1956
    Age 46
    He emerged from this treatment improved. In January 1956 he recorded two Granz-produced sessions including a reunion with pianist Teddy Wilson, trumpet player Roy Eldridge, trombonist Vic Dickenson, bassist Gene Ramey, and drummer Jo Jones – which were issued as The Jazz Giants '56 and Pres and Teddy albums. 1956 was a relatively good year for Lester Young, including a tour of Europe with Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Quartet and a successful residency at Olivia Davis' Patio Lounge in Washington, DC, with the Bill Potts Trio.
    More Details Hide Details Live recording of Young and Potts in Washington were issued later. Throughout the 1940s and 50s, Young had sat in on Count Basie Orchestra gigs from time to time.
  • 1955
    Age 45
    Young's playing and health went into a crisis, culminating in a November 1955 hospital admission following a nervous breakdown.
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  • 1951
    Age 41
    From around 1951, Young's level of playing declined more precipitously as his drinking increased.
    More Details Hide Details His playing showed reliance on a small number of clichéd phrases and reduced creativity and originality, despite his claims that he did not want to be a "repeater pencil" (Young coined this phrase to describe the act of repeating one's own past ideas).
  • THIRTIES
  • 1949
    Age 39
    With Young at the 1949 JATP concert at Carnegie Hall were Charlie Parker and Roy Eldridge, and Young's solo on "Lester Leaps In" at that concert is a particular standout among his performances in the latter half of his career.
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  • 1946
    Age 36
    Especially noteworthy are his performances with JATP in 1946, 1949, and 1950.
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    Young's career after World War II was far more prolific and lucrative than in the pre-war years in terms of recordings made, live performances, and annual income. Young joined Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) troupe in 1946, touring regularly with them over the next 12 years.
    More Details Hide Details He made many studio recordings under Granz's supervision as well, including more trio recordings with Nat King Cole. Young also recorded extensively in the late 1940s for Aladdin Records (1946-7, where he had made the Cole recordings in 1942) and for Savoy (1944, '49 and '50), some sessions of which included Basie on piano. While the quality and consistency of his playing ebbed gradually in the latter half of the 1940s and into the early 1950s, he also gave some brilliant performances during this stretch.
  • 1945
    Age 35
    He served one traumatic year in a detention barracks and was dishonorably discharged in late 1945.
    More Details Hide Details His experience inspired his composition "D.B. Blues" (with D.B. standing for detention barracks). Some jazz historians have argued that Young's playing power declined in the years following his army experience, though critics such as Scott Yanow disagree with this entirely. Recordings show that his playing began to change before he was drafted. Some argue that Young's playing had an increasingly emotional slant to it, and the post-war period featured some of his greatest renditions of ballads.
  • 1944
    Age 34
    In September 1944 Young and Jo Jones were in Los Angeles with the Basie Band when they were inducted into the U.S. Army.
    More Details Hide Details Unlike many white musicians, who were placed in band outfits such as the ones led by Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw, Young was assigned to the regular army where he was not allowed to play his saxophone. Based in Ft. McClellan, Alabama, Young was found with marijuana and alcohol among his possessions. He was soon court-martialed. Young did not fight the charges and was convicted.
    In August 1944 Young appeared alongside drummer Jo Jones, trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison, and fellow tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet in Gjon Mili's short film Jammin' the Blues.
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  • 1943
    Age 33
    While he never abandoned the cane reed, he used the plastic reed a significant share of the time from 1943 until the end of his life.
    More Details Hide Details Another cause for the thickening of his tone around this time was a change in saxophone mouthpiece from a metal Otto Link to an ebonite Brilhart.
    In December 1943 Young returned to the Basie fold for a 10-month stint, cut short by his being drafted into the army during World War II (see below).
    More Details Hide Details Recordings made during this and subsequent periods suggest Young was beginning to make much greater use of a plastic reed, which tended to give his playing a somewhat heavier, breathier tone (although still quite smooth compared to that of many other players).
    Small record labels not bound by union contracts continued to record and he recorded some sessions for Harry Lim's Keynote label in 1943.
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  • 1942
    Age 32
    His studio recordings are relatively sparse during the 1942 to 1943 period, largely due to the recording ban by the American Federation of Musicians.
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    During this period Young accompanied the singer Billie Holiday in a couple of studio sessions (during 1937 - 1941 period) and also made a small set of recordings with Nat "King" Cole (their first of several collaborations) in June 1942.
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  • 1940
    Age 30
    Young left the Basie band in late 1940.
    More Details Hide Details He is rumored to have refused to play with the band on Friday, December 13 of that year for superstitious reasons spurring his dismissal, although Young and drummer Jo Jones would later state that his departure had been in the works for months. He subsequently led a number of small groups that often included his brother, drummer Lee Young, for the next couple of years; live and broadcast recordings from this period exist.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1939
    Age 29
    After Young's clarinet was stolen in 1939, he abandoned the instrument until about 1957.
    More Details Hide Details That year Norman Granz gave him one and urged him to play it (with far different results at that stage in Young's life—see below).
  • 1938
    Age 28
    As well as the Kansas City Sessions, his clarinet work from 1938–39 is documented on recordings with Basie, Billie Holiday, Basie small groups, and the organist Glenn Hardman.
    More Details Hide Details It was Holiday who gave Young the nickname "Pres", short for the President. Playing on her name, he would call her "Lady Day." Their famously sympathetic classic recordings with Teddy Wilson date from this era.
  • 1933
    Age 23
    In 1933 Young settled in Kansas City, where after playing briefly in several bands, he rose to prominence with Count Basie.
    More Details Hide Details His playing in the Basie band was characterized by a relaxed style which contrasted sharply with the more forceful approach of Coleman Hawkins, the dominant tenor sax player of the day. Young left the Basie band to replace Hawkins in Fletcher Henderson's orchestra. He soon left Henderson to play in the Andy Kirk band (for six months) before returning to Basie. While with Basie, Young made small-group recordings for Milt Gabler's Commodore Records, The Kansas City Sessions. Although they were recorded in New York (in 1938, with a reunion in 1944), they are named after the group, the Kansas City Seven, and comprised Buck Clayton, Dicky Wells, Basie, Young, Freddie Green, Rodney Richardson, and Jo Jones. Young played clarinet as well as tenor in these sessions. Young is described as playing the clarinet in a "liquid, nervous style."
  • TEENAGE
  • 1927
    Age 17
    Lester Young played in his family's band, known as the Young Family Band, in both the vaudeville and carnival circuits. He left the family band in 1927 at the age of 18 because he refused to tour in the Southern United States, where Jim Crow laws were in effect and racial segregation was required in public facilities.
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  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1909
    Born
    Born on August 27, 1909.
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