Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

143

Lester Leaps In: The Life and Times of Lester

By

Sign in to view read count
Lester Leaps In Lester Leaps In
Douglas Henry Daniels
Beacon Press
ISBN: 0807071021

Once again the life of one of our music's most beautiful, unique voices is chronicled, this time in a historical biography. In Daniels' work you won't find detailed analyses of Young's performances or compositions, nor is the focus on juicy gossip. What you get is an incredibly comprehensive treatment of Young's life from before the cradle to beyond the grave. This book's greatest strength is Daniels' use of interviews conducted in the 1980's with Lester's fellow musicians, including Buck Clayton, John Collins, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Buster Smith and Connie Kay. Talk about timing!

Part of Daniels' mission here was setting the record straight. No, jazz didn't take a direct route from New Orleans north (much information on the "territories"); Lester wasn't just a Kansas City musician (rural Louisiana, the Midwest, Southwest and Minneapolis were among the places key to his musical and social development); Young's post-war career was not necessarily one of musical decline. Huge numbers of fans kept avidly following his career. He had his greatest financial success in this period. Many musicians felt that his musical development and significant contributions continued. Daniels places Lester Young's development, style and contributions squarely in African-American culture.

At times Daniels paints the picture of an almost saintly figure, yet includes ample testimony from those critical of Young's personal life as well as his music and is very forthright in detailing Pres' alcoholism. Daniels' last chapter, "Legacy", is particularly satisfying, recounting tributes, examples of Lester's influence on musicians and writers, and treatments of his life in other media.

Daniels' exhaustive reporting of historical documents (e.g. city directories) can be dull at times. Skim as needed. But even the more than one hundred pages of footnotes contain many gems. Overall Lester Leaps In is fascinating reading.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Listening For The Secret: The Grateful Dead And The Politics Of Improvisation Book Reviews Listening For The Secret: The Grateful Dead And The...
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 10, 2017
Read All That's Jazz Book Reviews All That's Jazz
by Phil Barnes
Published: December 6, 2017
Read Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine Book Reviews Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and...
by Doug Collette
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend Book Reviews Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend
by David A. Orthmann
Published: November 15, 2017
Read Softly, With Feeling Book Reviews Softly, With Feeling
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: October 24, 2017
Read Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In And Out Of Jazz Book Reviews Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In And Out Of Jazz
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 13, 2017
Read "The Art of Conduction" Book Reviews The Art of Conduction
by Riccardo Brazzale
Published: June 30, 2017
Read "David Bowie: Behind the Curtain" Book Reviews David Bowie: Behind the Curtain
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "All That's Jazz" Book Reviews All That's Jazz
by Phil Barnes
Published: December 6, 2017
Read "Listening For The Secret: The Grateful Dead And The Politics Of Improvisation" Book Reviews Listening For The Secret: The Grateful Dead And The...
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 10, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!