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.
This release presents the complete original Verve LP "Going for Myself" reuniting Lester Young and Harry “Sweets” Edison, one Pres’ last studio albums ever. Backing Pres and Sweets are superb musicians like Oscar Peterson, Louie Bellson and Herb Ellis. Five extra tracks have been added to the contents of the original album, including three alternate takes and two tunes not included on the originally issued set.
Dave Pell's Prez Conference was to Lester Young what Supersax is to Charlie Parker. Pell's short-lived group featured harmonized Lester Young solos recreated by three tenors and a baritone; their matchup with singer Joe Williams is quite enjoyable. Since Young was in Count Basie's orchestra when Jimmy Rushing was the vocalist, Joe Williams has a rare opportunity to give his own interpretation to Rushing and Billie Holiday classics like "I May Be Wrong," "You Can Depend on Me," "If Dreams Come True" and "Easy Living." A delightful and swinging date.
Billie Holiday often stated that she styled her vocal phrasing to echo the sound of a jazz horn, so it should be no surprise that she found the perfect duet partner in tenor sax player Lester Young. Lady Day and Pres (they bestowed the nicknames on each other) recorded some 60 sides together between 1937 and 1946, many if not all of which have to be considered classics. This three-disc set collects everything the pair did, including alternate takes, and the best tracks are truly revelatory. Given the obvious musical connection on display in these sides, it is telling that both Holiday and Young died only four months apart in 1959. Apparently the world just couldn't handle one without the other.
Uptown's 2013 release Boston 1950 features highlights from a series of concerts the great tenor saxophonist Lester Young gave at Boston's Hi-Hat between May 26 and June 11, 1950. He was performing with trumpeter Jesse Drakes, pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Joe Schulman, and drummer Connie Kay. Lester was at one of his peaks during the late '40s and early '50s and these performances have an appealing blend of lively jump and warmth, qualities that are apparent even underneath the somewhat thin audio quality. Listen beyond those compressed sonics and you'll find thoroughly enjoyable, big-hearted hard bop that's something of a joy to hear…