LESTER YOUNG — Lester Young: Ken Burns Jazz (review)

LESTER YOUNG — Lester Young: Ken Burns Jazz album cover Boxset / Compilation · 2000 · Swing Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
js
“Lester Young: Ken Burns Jazz” is a great collection of Lester Young tunes that is often criticized for its sound quality. Personally I find most of this CD to be fine, but unfortunately I think what gives people such a bad impression is that the worst moments come at the very beginning. The first 30 seconds are unbearable with a loud hiss that buries the opening piano, but after that first half a minute, the instruments seem to strengthen and the rest of the CD seems to be OK, except for “Twelfth Street Rag“, which also suffers from a very prominent hiss. Having said all that, the music on here is excellent. Lester Young is one of those rare instrumental voices who transforms every tune he plays into a personal statement. Often credited with being one of the first great jazz soloists to take a cool approach to soloing as opposed to the expected “hot” approach, Young’s languid and slightly off-kilter phrases matched with his smooth sound can be mesmerizing.

This CD does a good job of spanning Young’s entire career and includes some good performances from late in his career when he had supposedly lost his skills due to alcohol. The different settings Young is cast in on here include many sides with the Count Basie Orchestra and its many smaller off-shoots like the Kansas City Six, as well as some cuts that feature his legendary accompaniments to the sultry Billie Holiday and some cuts that feature Young as a leader. The tunes recorded with Basie seem to show what Young was best at. The Basie Orchestra was anything but cool and their high energy romps and tight riffs make for a perfect foil for Young’s rhythmically loose solos that blur the crisp lines of the big band. Due to some of the sound issues, this may not be the best Young collection to buy, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is some excellent music.
Share this review

Review Comments

Post a public comment below | Send private message to the reviewer
Please login to post a shout
No shouts posted yet. Be the first member to do so above!

JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
A Love Supreme Post Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners
Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
MILES DAVIS
Buy this album from our partners
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Progressive Big Band
CHARLES MINGUS
Buy this album from our partners
Blue Train Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners
My Favorite Things Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners

New Jazz Artists

New Jazz Releases

Zurich Concert Jazz Related Improv/Composition
JOËLLE LÉANDRE
Buy this album from MMA partners
Ain't No Saint Eclectic Fusion
JIM BLACK
Buy this album from MMA partners
Boomer Vibes 1 Post-Fusion Contemporary
TOM COLLIER
Buy this album from MMA partners
Green Thumb Post Bop
DAVID AKE
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Jazz Online Videos

Bounce - Nathan Allen
NATHAN ALLEN
js· 19 hours ago
AUTUMN IN NEW YORK - ADA MONTELLANICO QUARTETO
ADA MONTELLANICO
js· 21 hours ago
Eric Jacobson - Discover
ERIC JACOBSON
js· 2 days ago
Snag It (Remastered)
KING OLIVER
tupan· 2 days ago
More videos

New JMA Jazz Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions

More...

Latest Jazz News

members-submitted

More in the forums

Social Media

Follow us