466

Lester Young: Live at Birdland

By

Sign in to view read count
Lester Young: Live at Birdland Whenever a label decides to blow the dust off of a live Lester Young recording, the results are unlikely to disappoint. Such is the case with Live at Birdland, which fits on one disc three different live radio broadcasts.

The first of the three sets was recorded January 15, 1953 and broadcast on NBC radio. Of the three performances heard here, this set curiously features the finest audio quality, though the second two were recorded three years later. In fact, the first portion of the disc is what will make this an attractive recommendation, since it features Prez playing along with the great Horace Silver on piano, as well as trumpeter Jesse Drakes, bassist Franklin Skeete and drummer Lee Abrams. The group stretches out with a couple of Gershwin standards that showcase imaginative soloing—particularly Drakes, which makes one wonder why he never ended up in the same canon as Lee Morgan, Art Farmer and Kenny Dorham. This portion also features a fine rendition of the Young staple "Lester Leaps In," another version of which also opens the disc's second featured set.

The 1956 sets showcase a different rhythm section (pianist Bill Triglia, bassist Gene Ramey and drummer Gus Johnson), along with Don Ferrara replacing Drakes on trumpet, and were recorded on two consecutive Tuesday evenings in August of that year. The sets primarily consist of standards, including the Prez favorite, "Three Little Words." The only problem with this portion occurs due to the Symphony Sid-esque announcer Bill O'Toole, who has a tendency to interrupt the playing with various interjections that weren't likely appreciated by the musicians or the audience.

Though by no means as essential as The Complete Aladdin Sessions or his work with the Oscar Peterson trio, Live at Birdland is a must-own for Prez completists. Additionally, it serves as a time capsule of sorts since the ABC broadcasts are book-ended by an announcement saying that the broadcast was co-sponsored by the US Treasury Department, which encourages the listener to "invest regularly in United States savings bonds.


Track Listing: Oh, Lady Be Good; A Foggy Day; In a Little Spanish Town; Lester Leaps In; Theme: Lullaby of Birdland; Announcement; Lester Leaps In; Announcement; Polkadots and Moonbeams; Up n Adam; In a Little Spanish Town / Theme:; Theme: Lullaby of Birdland; Announcement; Three Little Words; Lester and Announcer Speak; These Foolish THings; Announcement; Blues in G; Tea for Two.

Personnel: Lester Young: tenor saxophone; Jesse Drakes: trumpet; Earl Knight: piano; Aaron Bell: bass; Lee Abrahams: percussion; Steve Allen House Band; Count Basie Orchestra.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ESP Disk | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by John Sharpe
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "Sunrain" CD/LP/Track Review Sunrain
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 3, 2016
Read "Unlimited 1, Live at Catalina's" CD/LP/Track Review Unlimited 1, Live at Catalina's
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 22, 2016
Read "Back Home" CD/LP/Track Review Back Home
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 15, 2016
Read "Emily’s D+Evolution" CD/LP/Track Review Emily’s D+Evolution
by Mark F. Turner
Published: April 12, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!

Buy it!