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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, Ian Lace, Peter Woolf, Colin Clarke

EPIC 501653 2XCD's

  1. Shoe Shine Boy
  2. Evenin'
  3. Boogie Woogie
  4. Lady Be good
  5. Dickie's dream
  6. Lester Leaps in
  7. Lester Leaps In (Alternative Take)
  8. China Boy
  9. Exactly Like You
  10. On the Sunny Side of the Street
  11. Upright Organ Blues
  12. Who?
  13. Jazz Me Blues
  1. Taxi War Dance
  2. 12th Street Rag
  3. Pound Cake
  4. Song of the Islands
  5. Clap Hands, here Comes Charlie
  6. The Apple Jump
  7. Riff Interlude
  8. Ham 'N' Eggs
  9. Hollywood Jump
  10. I Never Knew
  11. Tickle-Toe
  12. Louisiana
  13. Easy Does It
  14. Let Me See
  15. Blow Top
  16. Broadway

Lester Young was without a doubt one of the most influential Tenor Sax players of all time, without him there would have been no Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, or Al Cohn; all were strongly influenced by his playing. When he joined the Basie Band however, there were many detractors and his playing did not get immediate recognition. His lighter tone and unfamiliar style of improvisation did not sit comfortable with those who were used to the heavier sound of Coleman Hawkins and Hershel Evans. Basie who was made of sterner stuff realised that Lester was the sound of the future.

EPIC have made the reviewers job very difficult with a sleeve note that doesn't give recording dates or personnel or for that matter even the names of the bands featured.

The only thing we know for sure is that Lester Young plays on all the tracks! A few things are instantly recognised, vocals from Jimmy Rushing and some solo spots with the Basie Band, but it would be a brave reviewer who attempted to name all the musicians. I suspect Dickie Wells plays Trombone on some of the tracks and that a whole host of other famous jazz names are included. My guess is that all the tracks are pre-war, probably 1936 to 1940 vintage. If that is so, it is interesting to note that his unique style was already fully shaped before his period of fame with Jazz at the Philharmonic in the late 40's and early 50's. Throughout the two CD's his contribution is instantly recognisable, but the listener must take into account that many of these tracks were not aimed at a specialist jazz audience, but at the "pop" market of the day. The record does not mention re-mastering and I suspect, by some of the audible surface noise, not too much has been done to them. None of these problems however detract from the listening pleasure, Lester Young has left a legacy of wonderful music. If the record company had worked as well as Lester, this would have been an even better record.

Don Mather

Don Mather is a Saxophone Player and Bandleader in Coventry UK

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