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.
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…
Lester Young was one of the true jazz giants, a tenor saxophonist who came up with a completely different conception in which to play his horn, floating over bar lines with a light tone rather than adopting Coleman Hawkins' then-dominant forceful approach. A non-conformist, Young (nicknamed "Pres" by Billie Holiday) had the ironic experience in the 1950s of hearing many young tenors try to sound exactly like him.
The final volume of this four-volume chronicling of Prez' stand at Olivia's Patio Lounge in 1956 is no less fine than its preceding three volumes. Everything here is stretched out to a comfortable length, everybody is taking their time, giving the music plenty of room to breathe and most importantly, giving Young all the time he needs to get deep inside the music itself. ~ AllMusic
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.