This 1958 all-star date documents Pres on his last legs, about a year away from death. His tone is faltering and his energy level is low — especially on the clarinet, which he plays on "Salute to Benny" and "They Can’t Take That Away From Me." But still, on "Gypsy In My Soul" and "Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone," his entrances are pure Lester Young. One note and you know it’s him.
Joining Lester are trumpet greats Roy Eldridge and Harry "Sweets" Edison, backed by the fabulous rhythm section of Hank Jones, Herb Ellis, George Duvivier, and Mickey Sheen. Two tracks are previously unreleased: a jam-session-style take of "Mean to Me" and a three-part ballad medley that features each horn player in turn. Eldridge renders "The Very Thought of You," Sweets plays "I Want a Little Girl," and Pres recalls the old Basie days with "Blue and Sentimental."
Critics and Lester Young fans have long debated the relative worth of this album. One thing’s for sure: It would be a poor introduction for those not familiar with Lester’s work.
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.