JAZZ: Essential guide to a great career; GO2.
ANY record which describes itself as "the greatest of" or, as in this case, the "essential" is bound to be closely examined to see what has been left out.
The age of the CD enables more items to be included and all 20 pieces on this record are well-chosen to cover Lester's great career.
Towards the end of his life the lovely light and agile playing of his early years gave way to a deliberate plodding style which always disappointed me and I am glad to say that no such items have been included.
Thus we have Lester Leaps In as an opener, a great hit for the Count Basie Kansas City Seven in 1939, with Destination KC by almost the same personnel some five years later.
There are numerous examples of his work with Count Basie's Orchestra, including the famous Taxi War Dance, Texas Shuffle and Jive at Five.
Young's small group recordings certainly come into my definition of "essential" and Lady Be Good and Body and Soul are as fresh and enjoyable as the day I first heard them.
The selection takes us up to 1946 (Back to the Land) which is as late as I can bear to hear him play.
Even by this time Lester has begun to slow down but the magic is still there.
Any Lester Young selection which ignored his collaboration with Billie Holiday would be grossly lacking and I'll Never be the Same is a fine example of that famous partnership.
All in all, this is a careful and complete selection of which I am unlikely ever to grow weary.
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|Publication:||Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)|
|Date:||Apr 21, 2000|
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