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Lester Young

Biography

Together with Coleman Hawkins, Young was one of the most influential saxophonists of the swing era. His light, airy sound, and the melodic grace of his improvisations were in direct contrast to Hawkins's gruffer, more harmonically-based approach. Young's velvety tone ...

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Biography

Together with Coleman Hawkins, Young was one of the most influential saxophonists of the swing era. His light, airy sound, and the melodic grace of his improvisations were in direct contrast to Hawkins's gruffer, more harmonically-based approach. Young's velvety tone and rapid articulation were major influences on the bebop generation of saxophonists that followed, notably Charlie Parker.

Young had grown up close to New Orleans, before going on the road with his father's family band. As well as this practical musical apprenticeship - Young tried several instruments before deciding on saxophone - he absorbed the styles of Jimmy Dorsey and Frankie Trumbauer from records. In the early 1930s he played in various territory bands, and settled in Kansas City in 1933.

The following year he first played with Count Basie, whom he rejoined in 1936 as a founder-member of the first great Basie band. Part of the band's style was built around the contrasting tenor styles of Young and Herschel Evans (who emulated Hawkins), and Young quickly established himself as one of the group's key soloists. He also played some beautiful, limpid clarinet solos with Basie's small group, the Kansas City Five.

During this time he also played on several of Billie Holiday's recordings with Teddy Wilson, committing to disc his very special musical relationship with the singer in which his phrasing created a delicate counterpoint to her vocals. He left Basie to lead his own groups from 1940-43, but returned to the band until his disastrous induction to the military in 1944.

After several nightmarish months - most of which were spent in detention - he was returned to civilian life, and began working as a freelance and occasional bandleader. His most high profile work during his last decade was with Jazz at the Philharmonic, playing in tenor 'battles' with other soloists including Hawkins. His final years were bedevilled by alcoholism, but he nevertheless produced some outstanding and heartfelt recordings, including a first-rate reunion with Wilson for the Verve label.



Tracks (47)

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(It Takes) Two To Tango
(It Takes) Two To Tango
Performer
Lester Young
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans (feat. Lester Young, Buck Clayton, Eddie Durham, Freddie Green, Walter Page & Jo Jones)
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans (feat. Lester Young, Buck Clayton, Eddie Durham, Freddie Green, Walter Page & Jo Jones)
These Foolish Things
These Foolish Things
Performer
Dodo Marmoroso
Red Callendar
Lester Young
Lester Young
Henry Tucker
Composer
Lester Young
This Year's Kisses (feat. Teddy Wilson, Lester Young & Vic Dickenson)
This Year's Kisses (feat. Teddy Wilson, Lester Young & Vic Dickenson)
Performer
Lester Leaps In
Lester Leaps In
Performer
Brandon Allen
James Pearson
Sam Burgess
Last played on
Lady Be Good
Lady Be Good
Performer
Carl Smith, t; Lester Young, ts; Count Basie, p; Walter Page, p; Jo Jones, d. 9 Oct 1936 & Lester Young
This Year's Kisses
I Didn't Know What Time It Was
I Didn't Know What Time It Was
Performer
Lester Young, ts; Roy Eldridge, t; Vic Dickenson, tb; Teddy Wilson, p; Gene Ramey, b; Jo Jones, d. 12 Jan 1956. & Lester Young
Jammin’ the Blues
Jammin’ the Blues
Performer
Harry Edison, t; Dicky Wells, tb; Lester Young, Illinois Jacquet; Marlowe Morris, p; Barney Kessel, g; John Simmons, b; Jo Jones, d. 1944 & Lester Young
On The Sunny Side of the Street
On The Sunny Side of the Street
Performer
Harry Edison, t; Lester Young, ts; Marlowe Morris, p; Barney Kessel, g; Red Callender, b; Sidney Catlett, d; Marie Bryant, v. 1944 & Lester Young
Midnight Symphony
Midnight Symphony
Performer
Harry Edison, t; Lester Young, ts; Marlowe Morris, p; Barney Kessel, g; Red Callender, b; Sidney Catlett, d. 1944 & Lester Young
Midnight Symphony
Midnight Symphony
Performer
Lester Young, ts; Harry Sweets Edison, t; Marlowe Morris, p; Barney Kessel, g; Red Callendar, b; Sid Catlett, d. 1944 & Lester Young
I Can't Get Started
This Year's Kisses
Lester Leaps In
Lester Leaps In
Performer
Count Basie
Count Basie
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