Defying what has become conventional wisdom, tenor saxophonist Lester Young cut some of his greatest recordings in the 1950s – that is, when he was reasonably healthy. On this wonderful effort with pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Barney Kessel, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer J.C. Heard, Prez performs definitive versions of "Just You, Just Me" and "Tea for Two," and plays a string of concise but memorable ballad renditions: "On the Sunny Side of the Street," "Almost Like Being in Love," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "There Will Never Be Another You," and "I'm Confessin'." This is essential music from a jazz legend. Some reissues augment the original dozen songs with a version of the good-humored "It Takes Two to Tango," which features Young's only recorded vocals, plus a rather unnecessary false start (on "I Can't Get Started," ironically), along with some studio chatter.
Larry Young's third and final Prestige recording (reissued in the OJC series on CD) concludes his early period; he would next record as a leader two and a half years later on Blue Note, by which time his style would be much more original. For his 1962 outing, Young is joined by the obscure tenor Bill Leslie, guitarist Thornel Schwartz and drummer Jimmie Smith for some original blues and two standards ("I Found a New Baby" and "Sweet Lorraine"). Nothing all that substantial occurs, but fans of Jimmy Smith will enjoy the similar style that Larry Young had at the time.
Tal Farlow, was an innovative self-taught jazz guitarist who influenced generations of guitarists following in his footsteps. Although some of his peak years as a recording artist occurred during his association with Verve between 1954 and 1959, relatively few of the tracks were available for decades until the release of this comprehensive Mosaic box set. The music is consistently brilliant, as the leader's solos seem to evolve effortlessly, often finding fresh ground in the many standards and classic jazz compositions performed in this set. Aside from the three opening tracks from Farlow's days as a member of vibraphonist Red Norvo's trio, the guitarist is the leader.