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Showing posts with label Lester Young. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lester Young. Show all posts

Friday, March 15, 2013

Prisoner of Love - Lester Young and Teddy Wilson

Lester Willis Young (August 27, 1909 – March 15, 1959), nicknamed "Pres" or "Prez", was an American jazz tenor saxophonist and sometime clarinetist. Coming to prominence while a member of Count Basie's orchestra, Young was one of the most influential players on his instrument. In contrast to many of his hard-driving peers, Young played with a relaxed, cool tone and used sophisticated harmonies, using "a free-floating style, wheeling and diving like a gull, banking with low, funky riffs that pleased dancers and listeners alike". Famous for his hip, introverted style, he invented or popularized much of the hipster jargon which came to be associated with the music Lester Young was born in Woodville, Mississippi, and grew up in a musical family. His father, Willis Handy Young, was a respected teacher, his brother Lee Young was a drummer, and several other relatives played music professionally. His family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, when Lester was an infant and later to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Although at a very young age Young did not initially know his father, he learned that his father was a musician. Later Willis taught his son to play the trumpet, violin, and drums in addition to the saxophone. Lester Young played in his family's band, known as the Young Family Band,in both the vaudeville and carnival circuits. He left the family band in 1927 at the age of 18 because he refused to tour in the Southern United States, where Jim Crow laws were in effect and racial segregation was required in public facilities On December 8, 1957, Young appeared with Billie Holiday, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Roy Eldridge, and Gerry Mulligan in the CBS television special The Sound of Jazz, performing Holiday's tunes "Lady Sings The Blues" and "Fine and Mellow". It was a reunion with Holiday, with whom he had lost contact for years. She was also in decline at the end of her career, and they both gave moving performances. Young's solo was brilliant, considered by many jazz musicians an unparalleled marvel of economy, phrasing and extraordinarily moving emotion. But Young seemed gravely ill, and was the only horn player who was seated (except during his solo) during the performance. By this time his alcoholism had cumulative effect. He was eating significantly less, drinking more and more, and suffering from liver disease and malnutrition. Young's sharply diminished physical strength in the final two years of his life yielded some recordings with a frail tone, shortened phrases, and, on rare occasions, a difficulty in getting any sound to come out of his horn at all. Lester Young made his final studio recordings and live performances in Paris in March 1959 with drummer Kenny Clarke at the tail end of an abbreviated European tour during which he ate next to nothing and virtually drank himself to death. He died in the early morning hours of March 15, 1959, only hours after arriving back in New York, at the age of 49. He was buried at the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn. According to jazz critic Leonard Feather, who rode with Holiday in a taxi to Young's funeral, she said after the services, "I'll be the next one to go." Holiday died four months later at age 44.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Blues For Norman, parts I & II - Lee Young

Howard McGhee, Al Killian - trumpets Charlie Parker, Willie Smith - alto saxes Lester Young - tenor sax Arnold Ross - piano Billy Hadnott - bass Lee (Prez' brother) Young - drums

 It's hard to decide quite whether the drummer Lee Young's place in jazz gained from the overwhelming importance of his brother Lester, or was cast in the shade by it. The two men worked together several times during Lester's short life, and in their own band Lester was the universal jazz muse while Lee took care of the more prosaic side of things. One thing not in doubt is that Lee Young was an outstanding accompanist, who eschewed drum solos and who fashioned his own career away from his brother. Young's pianist father raised his family in the New Orleans area, and all of his children were taught to play musical instruments. In the 1920s, he formed a family band, the New Orleans Strutters, which played at minstrel shows and carnivals. The band also toured the South on the infamous Theater Owners' Booking Association (TOBA – also known as "Tough on Black Asses"). Before he was old enough to play, Lee stood on stage in a miniature tuxedo before the band as its "conductor". By the time he was 10, he was the only one of the children to have received any kind of orthodox education. Despite the touring, he attended grammar school when the family regularly wintered in Minneapolis. This gave him confidence when, in later years, he co-led a band with Lester, who had a slender grip on the realities of life. As a child Lee learnt to play trumpet, trombone, piano and soprano saxophone. He played the soprano when, in the mid 1920s, the family formed a band of seven saxophones made up of himself, his father, his stepmother, his sister, his brother and two cousins. But eventually Young settled on the drums as his main instrument and became the drummer in his father's band. Settling at last in Los Angeles in 1929, he became a singer at the Apex Club, continuing as a vocalist in the city until 1934, when he joined the band led by the expatriate New Orleanian trumpeter Mutt Carey. Young moved to Buck Clayton's band in 1936, but times were hard in the music business. When he was on tour with Clayton, the young trumpeter Jimmy Maxwell found a band stranded in his home town of Tracy, California. "Aren't you Buck Clayton?" he asked the leader. "What are you doing here?" "I'm here with my band, and the promoters ran off with all our money," he replied. They hadn't eaten for a couple of days, so Maxwell took Clayton, Young and the six others home with him and his mother gave them all dinner. In 1937, Young worked and recorded with the pianist Fats Waller and in 1937 played in the band led by the newly emerging Nat King Cole. He worked as a musician in the Paramount and MGM film studios and then joined Lionel Hampton's band as a singer and drummer, staying for four months from September 1940. The next year saw him back with Cole and then he put together the house band, called the Esquires of Rhythm, at Billy Berg's Club Capri in Hollywood. In 1941, Lester Young joined the band as co-leader and the group broadcast twice weekly, moving with Berg to his new club, the Trouville. But Lee wasn't there on the opening night. He had been approached by Duke Ellington's tenor sax player. He recalled: Duke was opening at the Trianon Ballroom on the same night. Frog (Ben Webster) and Bear (Jimmy Blanton) told me that Duke's drummer, Sonny Greer, wasn't going to make it that night and they wanted me to play with the band. I told Billy Berg, "I'm going to play with Duke tonight. You have to get another drummer." "What do you mean," he said. "You're the leader." "I don't care," I replied. "I may not ever get a chance again in my life to play with Duke, and I'm not going to give this up." Luckily, when I came back the next night, I still had a job. At the Trouville, the Youngs' band accompanied Billie Holiday. Lee Young worked in Los Angeles with characters as diverse as Bunk Johnson and Charlie Mingus, and recorded with Dinah Washington, Ivie Anderson and Mel Powell. He recorded with Jazz at the Philharmonic in 1944 and 1946 and worked for Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton again in 1947. A brief period with Oscar Peterson saw him fall foul, in a concert, of the merciless practical joking that went on within the pianist's trio. We're getting ready to play and I can't find my snare drum. They had taken it out of my trapcase and hidden it from me. I was really up a tree because I couldn't imagine how you could leave your snare drum out of your trap case. They opened up with "Air Mail Special" just as fast as you could play it, and I had no snare drum. All of a sudden on stage, here comes a waiter with a tray with my snare drum on it! From June 1953 to March 1962, Young played in the Nat King Cole Trio. In 1964, he went into record production, being associated over the years with the record labels Vee-Jay, United Artists, ABC, Dunhill Records and Motown Records. The drummer had two particular distinctions in regard to Los Angeles. He was the first black musician to work in a major studio and, as Norman Granz's tennis partner in the late Thirties, he was the person who first introduced the great entrepreneur to jazz. Lee Young appeared in three films: the Red Skelton comedy I Dood It (1943), St Louis Blues (1958) and Feather on Jazz (1967). Steve Voce Leonidas Raymond "Lee" Young, drummer, vocalist and bandleader: born New Orleans, Louisiana 7 March 1917; twice married (one son, one daughter); died Los Angeles 31 July 2008.

  If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorite band!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Blues for Greasy - Lester Young


Lester Willis Young (August 27, 1909 – March 15, 1959),[ nicknamed "Pres" or "Prez", was an American jazz tenor saxophonist and clarinetist. He also played trumpet, violin, and drums.

Coming to prominence while a member of Count Basie's orchestra, Young was one of the most influential players on his instrument, playing with a cool tone and using sophisticated harmonies. He invented or popularized much of the hipster ethos which came to be associated with the music.
Lester Young was born in Woodville, Mississippi, and grew up in a musical family. His father, Willis Handy Young, was a respected teacher, his brother Lee Young was a drummer, and several other relatives played music professionally. His family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, when Lester was an infant and later to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Although at a very young age Young did not initially know his father, he learned that his father was a musician. Later Willis taught his son to play the trumpet, violin, and drums in addition to the saxophone.

Lester Young played in his family's band in both the vaudeville and carnival circuits. He left the family band in 1927 at the age of 18 because he refused to tour in the Southern United States, where Jim Crow laws were in effect and racial segregation was required in public facilities
From around 1951, Young's level of playing declined more precipitously, as he began to drink more and more heavily. His playing showed reliance on a small number of clich├ęd phrases and reduced creativity and originality, despite his claims that he did not want to be a "repeater pencil" (Young coined this phrase to describe the act of repeating one's own past ideas). A comparison of his studio recordings from 1952, such as the session with pianist Oscar Peterson, and those from 1953–1954 (all available on the Verve label) also demonstrates a declining command of his instrument and sense of timing, possibly due to both mental and physical factors.[citation needed] Young's playing and health went into a crisis, culminating in a November 1955 hospital admission following a nervous breakdown.

He emerged from this treatment improved. In January 1956 he recorded two Granz-produced sessions featuring pianist Teddy Wilson (who had led the Billie Holiday recordings with Young in the 1930s), trumpet player Roy Eldridge, trombonist Vic Dickenson, bassist Gene Ramey, and drummer Jo Jones - available on the Jazz Giants '56 and Prez and Teddy albums. 1956 was a relatively good year for Lester Young, including a tour of Europe with Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Quartet and a successful stint at Olivia's Patio Lounge in Washington, DC.

Throughout the 1940s and 50s, Young had sat in on Count Basie Orchestra gigs from time to time. The best-known of these is their July 1957 appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival, the line-up including many of Lester's old buddies: Jo Jones, Roy Eldridge, Illinois Jacquet and Jimmy Rushing. His playing was in better shape, and he produced some of the old, smooth-toned flow of the 1930s. Among other tunes he played a moving "Polkadots and Moonbeams", which was a favorite of his at that time
On December 8, 1957, Young appeared with Billie Holiday, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Roy Eldridge, and Gerry Mulligan in the CBS television special The Sound of Jazz, performing Holiday's tunes "Lady Sings The Blues" and "Fine and Mellow". It was a reunion with Holiday, with whom he had lost contact for years. She was also in decline at the end of her career, and they both gave moving performances. Young's solo was brilliant, considered by many jazz musicians an unparalleled marvel of economy, phrasing and extraordinarily moving emotion.[citation needed] But Young seemed gravely ill, and was the only horn player who was seated (except during his solo) during the performance. By this time his alcoholism had cumulative effect. He was eating significantly less, drinking more and more, and suffering from liver disease and malnutrition. Young's sharply diminished physical strength in the final two years of his life yielded some recordings with a frail tone, shortened phrases, and, on rare occasions, a difficulty in getting any sound to come out of his horn at all.

Lester Young made his final studio recordings and live performances in Paris in March 1959 with drummer Kenny Clarke at the tail end of an abbreviated European tour during which he ate next to nothing and virtually drank himself to death. He died in the early morning hours of March 15, 1959, only hours after arriving back in New York, at the age of 49. He was buried at the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn. According to jazz critic Leonard Feather, who rode with Holiday in a taxi to Young's funeral, she said after the services, "I'll be the next one to go." Holiday died four months later at age 44.
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