Wednesday, August 27, 2008

President Day



Tired of the goings on in Denver? Do you feel like you're watching an MTV sponsored high school pep rally? Do you feel like kicking a hole in your TV everytime you hear the pundits on CNN talk about the convention? Do you frequently ask yourself "Is this the best we can do?" Are you mad as hell and can't take it anymore?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then you may have a soul. In which case, I direct you to immediately listen to today's musical selections.

Lester Young, AKA "The President" or "Pres" or "Prez" would have been 99 years old today. Below we have his first recordings. This is a small group ensemble made up of the core of the Count Basie band. They recorded these under the moniker Jones-Smith Incorporated with John Hammond in 1936 for Vocalion. Lester's legend had been growing for years before these recordings were made, and Hammond after hearing a radio broadcast late one night in Chicago, coming from a bandstand hookup at The Reno Club in Kansas City, sent word to Basie that he wanted to record them. Unfortunately, before he could get there, Dave Kapp, pretending to be acting on Hammond's behalf signed them to record 24 sides with Decca. So, the pseudonym Jones-Smith Inc. was born out of contractual obligations, but Hammond recorded them first. The lyical depth and phrasing of Lester's solos on "Lady Be Good" and "Shoeshine Boy" are landmarks in Jazz and an early look at his genius as an improviser and soloist in a small band. In addition, I've included Lester's signature tune, "Lester Leaps In" and the musical conversation between him and trombonist Dickie Wells, "Dickies Dream". And if that's not enough, two recordings with Billie Holiday from 1939, Lester takes a solo on "The Man I Love" that should move you if you have a pulse. The flip side, Cole Porter's "Night and Day" doesn't have a solo but is so sublimely beautiful that it would criminal not to include it here.

It's time to get the swing states swingin'. You dig?

Download:



"Lady, Be Good"
mp3
by Jones-Smith Incorporated, 1936.
available on The Lester Young Story



"Boogie Woogie" mp3
by Jones-Smith Incorporated, 1936.
Jimmy Rushing, Vocals.
available on The Lester Young Story



"Shoe Shine Swing" (AKA "Shoeshine Boy") mp3
by Jones-Smith Incorporated, 1936.
available on The Lester Young Story

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"Lester Leaps In" mp3
by Count Basie and his Orchestra, 1939.
available on The Lester Young Story



"Dickie's Dream" mp3
by Count Basie and his Orchestra, 1939.
available on The Lester Young Story

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"The Man I Love" mp3
by Billie Holiday, 1939.
available on The Lady Sings



"Night And Day" mp3
by Billie Holiday, 1939.
available on The Lady Sings

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For more of this, tune into WKCR at 89.9 on the FM dial if you are in New York City - or streaming on the web if you are not - and listen to Phil Schaap and his colleagues who are right now in the middle of the annual Lester Young - Charlie Parker Birthday Broadcast - Aug-27-29.

3 comments:

JSG said...

Ah, I've been bathing in Phil/Pres for a few hours now.

dean said...

That was nice, thanks! One of the things I love about vinyl rips of 78s is you know you have the finished product, not some alternate take thrown on a digital collection. And of course, happy B-day to the Prez, one of a kind talent. Here's a great clip of him with Billie Holiday playing Fine and Mellow:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tNSp7MaADM

Cheap mp3 downloads said...

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