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Lester Young: The Complete Savoy Recordings

Charlie B. Dahan By

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Savoy Jazz continues to celebrate it’s revival by releasing a complete anthology of Lester ‘Prez” Young’s recordings for Savoy. This collection is divided into two separate and distinct periods in Young’s life.

The first to be explored is the recordings he did in a two-week period in 1944 as both a sideman and as a bandleader. The first twenty tracks are culled from sessions he did on April 18th of 1944 with the Johnny Guarnieri All-Star Orchestra and Earle warren Orchestra. Had it not been pointed out by the excellent and annotated liner note by Loren Schoenberg, there would be no real way of telling for sure that Young was even on these sessions. His solos are staid but true to the orchestra for which he recorded. However, the final six tracks on the first disk have Young leading his own Quintet (featuring Count Basie on piano) and while not as profound as he would become, the true character and tone of Young’s tenor begins to move forward. This is particularly evident on the master take of “Jump, Lester, Jump.”

Disk two offers a collection of two post-war recordings done by Young with his Sextet in the studio in 1949 and ‘in performance’ in 1950 with his Quintet. Due to natural artistic evolution, more freedom in the studio and confidence in his abilities to lead his own group, Young truly stretches out and fires all cylinders into the microphone and to the audience in attendance. As soon as you purchase this CD, immediately play Young’s live recording of “Body and Soul,” (Track #12), as it is nothing short of a dynamic piece of ear candy from this fearless tenor sax-man and his quintet.

Savoy does another great job with their re-issue campaign, as they fully explore many aspects of an artists career recording for the historic label and provide wonderful insights in the liner notes.

Track Listing: Disk One With Johnny Guarnieri

Personnel: Lester Young - sax Count Basie - piano Johnny Guarnieri - piano Sweets Edison - trumpet Earle Warren - alto sax Jo Jones - drums Roy Haynes - drums and many others

Title: The Complete Savoy Recordings | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Savoy Jazz


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