Tag: Lester Young

Sunday Jazz: Jazz at the Philharmonic, July 1944

Sunday Jazz: Jazz at the Philharmonic, July 1944

Music, Sunday Jazz
The historic Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) concert series started by Verve impresario Norman Granz debuted at the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles, California on July 2, 1944.  It was a star-studded affair, featuring legends such as Buddy Rich, Lester Young, Nat King Cole, Illinois Jacquet, Les Paul, J.J. Johnson, and others. The fascinating thing about the recordings from this show is they serve as an excellent document of the bridge period between the late Swing era and the dawn of Bebop. I've updated by Spotify Sunday Jazz playlist with some choice cuts from the excellent compilation album The Complete Jazz at the Philharmonic on Verve, 1944-1949. Additionally I'd like to share some photos of that first JATP show, taken by Life magazine photographer Gjon Mili.
Sunday Jazz: Happy birthday Lester Young

Sunday Jazz: Happy birthday Lester Young

Music, Sunday Jazz
Yesterday was the 102nd birthday of saxophone immortal Lester "Pres/Prez" Young who was born in 1909 in Woodville, Mississippi. His contributions to jazz are immeasurable, and his story is typically tragic. Young was in the grip of alcoholism for the last years of his relatively brief life, and he died at the age of 49 on March 15, 1959. Prez's lyrical and relatively subdued sound is cited as a major influence of not only later players like Charlie Parker and Stan Getz, but of the entire Cool/West Coast Jazz sound. His pre-World War II recordings tend to have a little more fire in them, but there is plenty worth hearing from his late '40/early '50s period as well. The notion that Young's experience in the U.S. Army robbed him of his ability has by now been thoroughly debunked. The fi...