Definitive edition of the recordings made by Lester Young in 1938-1944 for the legendary Commodore, Signature and Keynote labels.
The final of the four "complete" Bennie Moten Classics CDs, which contain all of the orchestra's recordings except for a dozen alternate takes, has the band's final selections from 1930 (including some vocals by Jimmy Rushing) and then all of the music from Moten's classic final session of Dec. 13, 1932. With trumpeter Hot Lips Page, trombonist Dan Minor, Eddie Durham (the main arranger) on trombone and guitar, baritonist Jack Washington, Ben Webster on tenor, bassist Walter Page and pianist Count Basie, the orchestra at times almost sounds like the Count Basie big band of 1937. "Toby," the original version of "Moten Swing," "The Blue Room," "Milenberg Joys," "Lafayette" and "Prince of Wails" are among the many memorable selections.
During the period covered by this second of four Classics CDs, Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra was at the peak of its powers, dominating the jazz scene of the Midwest. There were not a lot of famous names in the group yet, but the soloists were colorful, and the band's ensembles could really rock in a pre-swing manner. The main players at the time included cornetist Ed Lewis, Harlan Leonard on various reeds, baritonist Jack Washington and Moten himself on piano. Highlights include "Moten Stomp," "Kansas City Breakdown," "Get Low-Down Blues," "Terrific Blues" and the remake of the band's hit "South."
Pianist Bennie Moten led one of the finest jazz bands on record in the 1920s, a group that included many of the top musicians of the Midwest. On the first of four Classics CDs - all of which are recommended to vintage jazz collectors - that reissue the master takes of all of Moten's recordings, the band quickly evolves from a sextet in 1923 to a solid 11-piece orchestra. Despite a few novelty effects (including clarinetist Woody Walder occasionally getting weird sounds by playing only the mouthpiece of his horn), even the most primitive numbers on this set are quite enjoyable. Highlights include the original version of "South" (Moten's big hit), "Goofy Dust," "Thick Lip Blues" and "Sugar."