Lester Willis Young (Woodville, MississippiAugust 27, 1909 - New York City15 March 1959) was a tenor saxophonist and clarinet player standing next toColeman Hawkins and John Coltrane in the jazz history as one of the three most influential tenor saxophonists classified. His nickname Pres or Prez (short forpresident) he received from singer Billie Holiday. The jazz had been a King of Swing (Benny Goodman), a Duke (Ellington), and a Count (Basie). Holiday in turn got him nicknamed Lady Day. Lester Young played his instrument on a very own way, light and fleeting, as opposed to the then common, hard style of Coleman Hawkins. He has many tenor saxophonists affected, although he himself held on after a particularly quirky style.


[hide]*1 Biography


Young years[Edit]Edit

Lester Young was the eldest of three children and grew up near New OrleansLouisiana. When he was eleven, the Young father with children moved toMinneapolis. Father Willis Handis Young taught his children play musical instruments. Young played violin, trumpet and drums, but chose at the age of 13 for the Alto Saxophone, which he performed with the family band. In 1927 he left Minneapolis after quarrels with his father, because he refused to act in the South of the USA. In 1928 he exchanged his Alto Sax for the tenor saxophone. That was also the year that he was going to play with Art Bronson Bostonians.

In 1929 , he played a while with the family band, but when the family moved to California , remained Young in New Mexico. He played with various bands, including Walter page's Blue Devils (1930), again with Art Bronson (1930), Eddie Ireland (1931), again with the Blue Devils (1932-1933). When the latter broke up in ' 33, established Young in Kansas City. He played with the Bacon Slices-George e. Lee Band, Clarence LoveKing Oliver, and one evening in december with Fletcher Henderson, who then did a tour with Coleman Hawkins.

From Count Basie to the army[Edit]Edit

Beginning 1934 went Young playing together with Count Basie, a move that would give him national prominence. At the end of March he went yet again play in Henderson's band, to replace Hawkins. Because the members of the band relaxed, quiet style of Hendersons Young but found nothing, he left the band again within a few months. Again followed a time of play with different bands in different places: Young played in Kansas City and Minnesota, successively with Andy KirkBoyd Atkins and non-Ganz.

Lester Young In 1936 returned back to Count Basie. In november he played solos in songs like Lady be Good and Shoe Shine Boy. This granted him fame among fellow musicians solos, which even his solos were going to learn by heart. Young got a major role in the band of Basie, who thereby became more famous each time. He became an influential saxophonist Lester Young, wrote history, both by recordings with Basie and Billie Holiday and together with sessions that he Teddy Wilson played. The young generation, with musicians such as Dexter Gordon and Illinois Jacquet, was impressed by his music. Especially his performances with a small band, especially on Lester Leaps In, are of importance for the jazz history.

In 1940 he left the band of Count Basie again behind. He formed a band with his brother, drummer Lee Young, but this didn't last long and Young went back to play as a freelancer. In december 1943 he returned back to Count Basie for the third time, and only now the general public discovered him. He was appreciated by those new generation, including John ColtraneSonny Rollins and Stan Getz. He won the election for the best Downbeat tenor saxophone player and even played a role in a short film: Jammin' the Blues.

On 30 september 1944, Young called up for military service. He found it extremely difficult to deal with the racism and the lack of his usual musical exhaust valves. He was convicted of drug use. Young smoking end1945 came from military service and began to take back plates on, the first one was his masterpiece These Foolish Things.

Jazz at the Philharmonic[Edit]Edit

Young played almost every year from 1946 a time with Jazz at the Philharmonic, the rest of the time he was on tour with his own small straps. Late 1940s began his style influenced by hitting the young bop musicians. He took much music on in the 1950s, and he appeared several times with the band of Count Basie. However, his health began to suffer from serious alcohol consumptionare abundant. He made his last recordings in March 1959 in the Blue Note Club in Paris, but he then became seriously ill and returned to New York. Not much later he died there at the age of 49.

Young was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame.

Playing Style[Edit]Edit

Lester Young said yourself [2that he constantly experimented on his tenor saxophone to him ' to make it sound as an alt, a tenor or a bass '. The changes in his show were intentional, except during his last recordings in the period that he was sick. He usually played in the middle register of the saxophone and avoided extremely low or high tones. In contrast to, for example, Coleman Hawkins, who like uitspeelde and contrasts in higher registers climbed (the shrieks), Lester Young, usually limited to a range of two octaves.

Lester Young's work is divided in three major style periods:[2]

  1. 1936 to 1942, it's early period ' here also falls under his ' introverted period ", in which he very controlled, cool but introverted plays. On his first recording played Lester Young very pure with full, round tone.He gradually evolved to a softer tone with more legato-articulation. About 1939 he had his typical psychedelic soft tone would be developed of great influence on Stan GetzZoot Sims and thousands of other musicians. Typical of recordings from this period, such as Taxi War Dance were the soft bass notes that he himself described as tones from a ' Foghorn '. [2]
  2. 1943 until about 1950, his ' middle period ', a thicker, dark sound with occasional show rasperige in the high register (such as on After Theatre Jump from 1944) and high, long held as blues notes onDestination K. C. from that same year. Especially in the recordings from 1943 and 1944 he plays contrasts between the high and low registers, and surprised his audience with frequent low ' hits '.
  3. 1950 to 1959, are "late" style period. Around 1950, he played on a Conn-saxophone with plastic Wicker while those among musicians still had a bad reputation. Since 1943, he played on a metal Otto Link mouthpiece, and later also on a hardrubberen (Ebon) nozzle, probably from the trademark Glasses heart. Lester Young in this later period also made superb recordings yet, but he and weakened by disease that had influence on his game.

Young popularized a number of techniques such as glissando in the saxophone playing, which he long, sliding tones (on more than one octave) produced, which much resembled what jazz singers did. Of Young was also known that he liked his songs sang and his saxophone so wanted to make it sound. He also experimented, such as Jimmy Dorsey, with alternative fingerings for certain notes, which contributed to his own show. This enabled him to create change, through his mouth, to produce overtones at nuts which this otherwise would be difficult: for example, from a low C to middle C.



  • Lestorian Notes A Discography or Lester Young -Piet Koster and Harm Mobach-1998-Micrography-Amsterdam, The Netherlands- ISBN 90-76453-01-2
  • The Complete Lester Young Studio Sessions on Verve -8-CD boxed set (included the only two existing interviews with Lester Young)
  • Count Basie The Complete Decca Recordings (1937-39)
  • The Kansas City Sessions (1938 and 1944) Commodore Records
  • The Complete Aladdin Recordings (1942-7) the 1942 Nat King Cole session and more of the postwar period
  • The Lester Young Trio (1946)-again with Nat King Cole and Buddy Rich Verve Records
  • The Complete Savoy Recordings (1944-50)
  • One Night Stand-The Town Hall Concert 1947-live recording
  • Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio (1952) Verve Records (Collects 3 albums, including ' The President Plays... ' below)
  • The President Plays With The Oscar Peterson Trio (1952), Verve Records
  • Pres and Teddy (1956) Verve Records
  • The Jazz Giants ' 56 (1956)
  • Lester Young in Washington, D.C., 1956 (5 parts), with house-band the Bill Potts Trio.
  • Count Basie- At Newport (1957)

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