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The quintet playing Pennies From Heaven, according to Songbook, is comprised of Lester Young on tenor saxophone, Bill Harris on trombone, Hank Jones on piano, Ray Brown on bass and Buddy Rich on drums. The high quality of the video because it is taken from a film, Norman Granz at Montreux Jazz: Improvisation.

A straight bio of Young, who was known as Prez, is posed at PBS. A look at his style can be found at NPR. Here is an excerpt of the NPR piece, which was written by Tom Vitale:

Sweetness is what Young was all about. When he started to gain attention, the dominant style of the day was the aggressive, hard-driving saxophone of Coleman Hawkins. But Young played in the upper range of his tenor in a lyrical, relaxed style.
It is a nice feature, and here is another. Here are Lester Leaps In and Goodbye Pork Pie HatThe latter was written in honor of Young by bassist Charlie Mingus, who is among the performers in the clip. It was later renamed Theme for Lester Young, according to Wikipedia. Young traditionally wore a pork pie hat.

Cross-Posted at THE DAILY MUSIC BREAK, the site that features good music regardless of era or genre. Visit for a free daily or weekly email of links.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Prez (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    enhydra lutris

    Prez was a very influential jazz musician.  

    It is hard to know this today.  We listen to his playing and think he sounds sweet and simple compared to the sax playing of Coltrane and modern greats.

    To understand the revolutionary playing of Prez, you have to be familar with popular music that was being played before Prez came on the scene.  Up until Prez, the saxophone was not considered an instrument for serious jazz playing.  The trumpet ruled supreme on the jazz stage.  

    Lester Young showed us that the saxophone could be used to make good jazz music, and pioneered improvisational playing on the sax.  Charlie Parker was one of the early adherents to the changes Prez brought to jazz music.

    Today, jazz students are routinely assigned the task of transcripbing Prez's sax solos as learning exercixes.

    Thanks for your article about the great Lester Young.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 06:33:01 AM PDT

    •  Thanks... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      enhydra lutris

      ...for this input. In doing The Daily Music Break--these posts and the site--I usually post about performers I love, know are great...but don't really know too much about. So contributions like this are to say the least extremely welcome. It's great context.

  •  A friend of mine (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    enhydra lutris

    once told me about one night when Prez was playing with Basie's band, there was a guy who used to hang around with the band who had a great ear for detail.  The guy sat and listened and transcribed one of Prez' solos, note for note, and it looked (as they say) like a 'parking lot for flies'.  As Salieri might have put it "too many notes?" but Salieri was a jerk.

    Anyway, Prez just played what came to mind, and had a very quick and facile mind.  Lots of notes, bot not too many.

    Anyway, the next night, before the gig, the guy goes up to Prez and hands him the sheet with the written solo on it and says "tonight, for the solo on "X", play this."

    Prez looks at the paper with all of the 16th note runs, odd intervals, funky time inversions and extremely difficult stuff ans says "Man, this is too hard.  I could never play this!"

    To which the reply was, of course, "Why not? You did last night!"

    Prez was one of a kind.

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 09:14:06 AM PDT

  •   Ray Brown (0+ / 0-)

    Do him next, pls.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 11:07:20 AM PDT

    •  Next classic jazz... (0+ / 0-)

      ...person it is. Don't know how this works at Daily Kos, but if there is a way to send me a private message with some details on him, I will certainly use them...

      •  Here's a link to his wikipedia page - (0+ / 0-)

        link -
        He played with Diz, Oscar Peterson (was 1/3 of Oscar Peterson Trio), accompanied Frank Sinatra, Billy Eckstine, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson. and many others including Diana Krall and Laurindo Almeida.

        He cut an 2 albums called Super Bass and Super Bass 2 with  John Clayton & Christian McBride, also bassists.

        Much, much more.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 06:04:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Don't know if you'll this... (0+ / 0-)

      ...but look for Mr. Brown tomorrow. Thanks for the suggestion.

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