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  • The Complete Lester Young Studio Sessions on Verve
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The Complete Lester Young Studio Sessions on Verve Box set

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Audio CD, Box set, October 19, 1999
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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Disc 1:

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Back To The LandBuddy Rich 3:58$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. I Cover The Waterfront (12" Version)Buddy Rich 3:51$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. I Cover The Waterfront (Take Two)Buddy Rich 4:04$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Somebody Loves MeBuddy Rich 3:54$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. I've Found A New BabyBuddy Rich 4:05$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. The Man I LoveBuddy Rich 4:51$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Peg O' My HeartNat King Cole 4:05$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. I Want To Be HappyBuddy Rich 3:58$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Mean To Me [feat. Nat King Cole]Lester Young 4:13$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Too Marvelous For Words (78 RPM Take)Lester Young 3:00$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Too Marvelous For WordsLester Young 3:02$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen12. 'Deed I DoLester Young 3:17$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen13. EncoreLester Young 3:09$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen14. Polka Dots And MoonbeamsLester Young 3:41$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen15. Up 'N' AdamLester Young 3:50$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen16. Three Little WordsLester Young 3:19$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen17. Count Every StarLester Young 3:01$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen18. Count Every StarLester Young 3:12$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen19. It All Depends On YouLester Young 3:23$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen20. NeenahLester Young 3:09$0.69  Buy MP3 
listen21. Neenah (Alternate Take 2)Lester Young 2:18$0.69  Buy MP3 
listen22. NeenahLester Young 3:26$0.69  Buy MP3 

Disc 2:

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Jeepers, CreepersLester Young 3:07$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Thou SwellLester Young 2:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Thou SwellLester Young 2:57$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. September In The RainLester Young 3:08$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Undercover Girl BluesLester Young 2:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. FrenesiLester Young 3:01$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Pete's CafeLester Young 3:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Little Pee BluesLester Young 2:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. A Foggy DayLester Young 2:52$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. In A Little Spanish TownLester Young 3:14$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Let's Fall In LoveLester Young 2:57$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen12. Down 'N' AdamLester Young 2:57$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen13. Lester SwingsLester Young 2:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen14. Slow Motion BluesLester Young 2:58$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen15. Ad Lib BluesThe Oscar Peterson Trio 5:52$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen16. Just You, Just MeThe Oscar Peterson Trio 7:39$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen17. Tea For TwoThe Oscar Peterson Trio 7:45$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen18. IndianaThe Oscar Peterson Trio 7:04$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen19. These Foolish ThingsLester Young 3:27$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen20. I Can't Get StartedOscar Peterson 4:30$0.99  Buy MP3 

Disc 3:

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. StardustThe Oscar Peterson Trio 3:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. (It Takes) Two To TangoThe Oscar Peterson Trio 6:06$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. On The Sunny Side Of The StreetThe Oscar Peterson Trio 3:27$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Almost Like Being In LoveThe Oscar Peterson Trio 3:34$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. I Can't Give You Anything But LoveThe Oscar Peterson Trio 3:23$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. There Will Never Be Another YouThe Oscar Peterson Trio 3:29$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. I'm Confessin'The Oscar Peterson Trio 3:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Willow Weep For MeLester Young 3:09$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. This Can't Be LoveLester Young 3:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Can't We Be Friends?Lester Young 3:10$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. TenderlyLester Young 3:29$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen12. New D. B. BluesLester Young 3:21$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen13. Jumpin' At The WoodsideLester Young 3:04$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen14. I Can't Believe That You're In Love With MeLester Young 3:13$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen15. Oh, Lady, Be Good!Lester Young 3:30$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen16. Another MamboLester Young 3:39$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen17. Come Rain Or Come ShineLester Young 3:12$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen18. Rose RoomLester Young 4:11$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen19. Somebody Loves Me (1954 Version)Lester Young 4:58$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen20. Touch Me Again [also issued as "Kiss Me Again"]Lester Young 5:17$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen21. It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)Lester Young 4:30$0.99  Buy MP3 

Disc 4:

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. I'm In The Mood For LoveLester Young 3:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Big Top BluesLester Young 4:49$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Mean To MeHarry Edison 7:39$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. That's AllOscar Peterson 4:40$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. That's AllHarry Edison 4:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Red Boy BluesHarry Edison 5:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Pennies From HeavenHarry Edison 5:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. She's Funny That WayOscar Peterson 3:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. She's Funny That WayHarry Edison 8:52$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. One O'Clock JumpOscar Peterson 5:37$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. It's The Talk Of The TownHarry Edison 6:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen12. I've Found A New BabyOscar Peterson 6:01$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen13. I Guess I'll Have To Change My PlanLester Young 9:25$0.99  Buy MP3 

Disc 5:

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. I Didn't Know What Time It WasLester Young10:01$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Gigantic BluesLester Young 6:50$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. This Years KissesLester Young 6:45$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. You Can Depend On MeLester Young 9:03$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Pres ReturnsThe Lester Young - Teddy Wilson Quartet 6:22$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Prisoner Of LoveThe Lester Young - Teddy Wilson Quartet 7:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Taking A Chance On LoveThe Lester Young - Teddy Wilson Quartet 5:09$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. All Of MeThe Lester Young - Teddy Wilson Quartet 5:08$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. LouiseThe Lester Young - Teddy Wilson Quartet 5:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Love Is Here To StayLester Young 6:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Love Me Or Leave MeThe Lester Young - Teddy Wilson Quartet 6:46$0.99  Buy MP3 

Disc 6:

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. St. TropezOscar Peterson 7:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. St. Tropez (Master Take)Oscar Peterson10:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. FlicOscar Peterson 6:31$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Ballad Medley: A Ghost Of A Chance/I Cover The Waterfront (Album Version)Oscar Peterson 5:52$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Love Is Here To StayOscar Peterson 5:53$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. SundayOscar Peterson 5:39$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. PerdidoOscar Peterson 6:37$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Waldorf Blues (Alternative Take)Lester Young 6:53$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Waldorf BluesLester Young 8:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Sunday (Master Take)Lester Young 7:02$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. You're Getting To Be A Habit With MeLester Young 7:40$0.99  Buy MP3 

Disc 7:

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. You're Getting To Be A Habit With MeLester Young 5:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. RompingLester Young11:41$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Gypsy In My SoulLester Young 4:13$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm GoneLester Young 6:01$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. They Can't Take That Away From MeLester Young 6:00$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Salute To BennyLester Young 8:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Ballad Medley: The Very Thought Of You/I Want A Little Girl/Blue And SentimentalLester Young 6:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Mean To MeLester Young 7:00$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. I Didn't Know What Time It WasLester Young 4:19$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Oh Lady, Be Good!Lester Young 3:35$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Almost Like Being In LoveLester Young 3:59$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen12. Three Little Words (1959 Version)Lester Young 4:17$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen13. I Cover The WaterfrontLester Young 3:47$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen14. I Can't Get StartedLester Young 3:10$0.99  Buy MP3 

Disc 8:

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. IndianaLester Young 2:46$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Pennies From HeavenLester Young 3:19$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. New D. B. BluesLester Young 3:13$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Lullaby Of BirdlandLester Young 3:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. There Will Never Be Another YouLester Young 3:37$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Tea For TwoLester Young 3:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Early Life (Interview)Lester Young 3:47$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. After New Orleans (Interview) [Explicit]Lester Young 1:54$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Pres's Instruments (Interview) [Explicit]Lester Young 5:54$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Count Basie (Interview) [Explicit]Lester Young 1:41$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Racial Tension (Interview) [Explicit]Lester Young 2:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen12. Influences (Interview) [Explicit]Lester Young 2:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen13. Composing And Reading Music (Interview) [Explicit]Lester Young 5:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen14. Recordings: Clarinet Dates (Interview) [Explicit]Lester Young 2:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen15. Lady Day And Nobody's Business (Interview) [Explicit]Lester Young 2:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen16. Philosophy On Music I (Interview) [Explicit]Lester Young 1:18$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen17. Younger Saxophonists (Interview)Lester Young 1:50$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen18. Basie Then And Now (Interview) [Explicit]Lester Young 2:07$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen19. Debunking (Interview) [Explicit]Lester Young 1:37$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen20. Philosophy On Music II (Interview) [Explicit]Lester Young 1:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen21. Pres's Sound: Sitting In With Fletcher Henderson (Interview) [Explicit]Lester Young 2:29$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen22. Joining Henderson (Interview) [Explicit]Lester Young 3:29$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen23. Early Pres: Oliver, Bronson, Basie (Interview)Lester Young 1:13$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen24. Coleman Hawkins And Henderson (Interview)Lester Young 1:25$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen25. Billie Holiday (Interview)Lester Young 1:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen26. Recording Techniques (Interview)Lester Young 2:00$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen27. Pres's Favorite Singers (Interview)Lester Young 1:39$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen28. Philosophy On Music Vis-A-Vis Other Tenor Players (Interview)Lester Young 2:59$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen29. Records New And Old (Interview)Lester Young 2:12$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen30. Mahalia Jackson (Interview)Lester Young0:55$0.99  Buy MP3 

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 19, 1999)
  • Original Release Date: 1999
  • Number of Discs: 8
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Polygram Records
  • ASIN: B0000296VH
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,063 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

With his airy, vibratoless tone and sophisticated harmonic imagination, Lester Young (1909-59) was arguably the most influential tenor saxophonist after Coleman Hawkins. As the star in Count Basie's big band and Billie Holiday's favorite soloist, Young's breezy solos, along with his patented porkpie hat and unique hipster jargon, affected legions of musicians. This 8-CD compilation marks the 90th anniversary of Young's birth and contains all of the recordings he made for producer Norman Granz from 1946 to 1959, the last 13 years of Young's life. This collection aurally illustrates his supernatural ability to enliven the most familiar pop tunes and rise above his own pharmaceutically challenged physical state to create magic. The keys to Young's music making is his emphasis on knowing the lyrics to songs and on telling a story, delivering a melodic solo that communicates as it innovates.

Composed primarily of small combos, these tracks' themes are set by the piano players. Nat King Cole's walking bass lines and drummer Buddy Rich's pepperings cushion Young's Icarusian flights on "I Cover the Waterfront," "The Man I Love," and "Polka Dots and Moonbeams." On "I Found a New Baby" Young's delivery previews the bebop of Charlie Parker and on "Too Marvelous for Words" Young's subtones echo the long, tall sounds of Dexter Gordon. A quartet with pianist John Lewis, drummer and Basie bandmate Jo Jones, and bassist Gene Ramey offers similar results with Young's poetic versions of the riff tune "Neenah" and "Three Little Words," with Lewis's telepathic comping. Oscar Peterson's supersonic style, Barney Kessel's guitar, bassist Ray Brown, and percussionist J.C. Heard light a fire under Young on the down-home "Ad Lib Blues" and "It Takes Two to Tango"--with Young's hilarious vocal. With another quintet featuring Gildo Mahones at the keys and Connie Kay at the traps, Young revisits his days with Count Basie on the festive "Jumpin' at the Woodside." Another Basie bandmate, Harry "Sweets" Edison, lends his territory-toned chops to the hit "One O'Clock Jump." On "You Can Depend on Me" and "Gigantic Blues" Roy Eldridge's hot trumpet and Vic Dickenson's muscular trombone provide the perfect counterpoint to Young's ethereal excursions. The two takes of "St. Tropez" are the only recordings with Young on clarinet, and the leader delves into Latin jazz on "Frenesi," "In a Little Spanish Town," and "Another Mambo."

By the time he made his last sessions in Paris in 1959 with drummer Kenny Clarke and pianist Rene Urtreger, Young had lost his technical luster, but he gained a deep spiritual presence, as evidenced by the haunting takes on "I Cover the Waterfront" and "Oh, Lady, Be Good." The noted jazz author John Chilton's biographical essay, along with Harry "Sweets" Edison's loving memoir, Dave Gelly's musicological analysis, and two recorded interviews with Young are detailed, profane, and informative. But Bryan Koniarz's "Hipster's Dictionary" of Young's slang steals the show. From the Lestorian lexicon we get words like "Far Out" for guitarist Slim Gaillard, "little claps" for applause, and "Lady Day" for Billie Holiday, who in turn named the great saxophonist "Prez," for he was the commander in chief of jazz. --Eugene Holley Jr.


Some claim Lester Young was as great a soloist at 48 as he was at 28. Don't buy it. Prez's best work was done when he was between 27 and 32 (1936 to '41). During these years, he played with unsurpassed grace and youthfulness. He made a number of fine records after that, but gradually declined until his death in 1959.

After leaving Count Basie in December, 1940, Young began to record more slow-tempoed selections and blues. His tone thickened, he used the lower register more, and swung less buoyantly. From the mid '40s on, he employed odd intervals, which gave his work an eccentric quality. In his last years, Young used a breathy vibrato, which, on ballads, made him sound like Ben Webster.

This eight-CD set contains the bulk of the recordings Young cut from 1949 to 1959 plus a 1946 trio session with Nat Cole and Buddy Rich, which is nice, but not in a class with the stuff he recorded with Rich and bassist Red Callendar in 1941. He also appears in quartets, quintets, and sextets with musicians including Hank Jones, John Lewis, Teddy Wilson, Oscar Peterson, Roy Eldridge, Harry Edison, and Kenny Clarke.

Given Young's physical condition, which was deteriorating due to heavy drinking and severe depression, it's almost surprising that he plays as well as he does here. But generally, his early '50s playing is laudable. He turns in fine solos on ballads (1953's "Can't We Be Friends"), blues (1951's "Undercover Girl Blues"), and uptempo numbers (1951's "In a Little Spanish Town").

Around 1955, though, his work became more repetitive, economical, and less inventive. At times, it's downright listless. He displays far less energy than his contemporaries, Wilson, Eldridge, and Edison. However, his last recorded solos are strangely moving, giving us an aural portrait of a dying man.

Also contained on this set are two recorded interviews with Young. These are sometimes humorous, full of Young's patented slang, but ultimately extremely bitter.

--- Harvy Pekar, JAZZIZ Magazine Copyright © 2000, Milor Entertainment, Inc. -- From Jazziz

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Truthseeker on January 29, 2000
Format: Audio CD
If you're seriously into Lester Young, you must, of course, own this set. But, while the first five discs will give you many hours of unalloyed joy, there is a scary, deepening sadness that comes with the final three. These are the last days of Lester, and beginning about halfway through disc six, you can hear the magic leaving him. From then on, he seems to shrink, suddenly losing all sense of the beat, sometimes playing only a few wayward notes, inept as any amateur on the instrument. By the time you hit the last Paris sessions of 1959, it is painful to listen to. What makes it even worse is the occasional flash, like dying lightning, of the old genius. You find yourself wondering what on earth prompted someone to record these last sessions. The collection includes two interviews with Young, which every fan must hear, and a great little book. And as I said at the outset, through most of this collection, the magic is still there. But you won't often revisit those last discs . . . unless you're the kind of person who likes looking at car wrecks.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By G. Whiz on September 22, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
To say that Lester Young's best work was complete by the early 40's is ridiculous. This is a statement made by a person who clearly knows the subject very little. Mr. Pekar seems to have read a few reviews and then decided to write his own - without examining the body of work. Not research, just parroting.

Now, is this the best Lester Young available? Absolutely not. But what you're getting here is STUDIO SESSIONS. Lester made several very fine studio sessions in the 50's but his best work from the 50's - and, some of Lester's BEST WORK - are the live performances that we're so fortunate to have record of.

In this set you get the Studio Sessions - many of them being very fine sets. Listen to the Lester Young TRIO set and you'll hear something marvelous. Some of these studio sessions, however, are lackluster. Lester was known in the 50's to have his "set list" of songs. Having no permanent backing group, Lester played with mostly pickup groups and so we have countless versions of "Polka Dots and Moonbeams", "Indiana", etc. Don't you imagine that Lester was tired of these same old songs played in the studio each time that he was to record? Of course he was. Thus we hear boredom, then depression and finally hopelessness as his body began to rapidly deteriorate (and quite possibly his mind as well).

If one chooses to listen to the Lester Young in Washington CD's (1956) or some of the later (admittedly, selected) live performances then one will hear that Lester still had vitality, inventiveness and swing in his playing until darned near the end of his life. So for Harvy Pekar to say that Lester was "done" after the early 40's is a load of bull-butter. Pekar knows not of what he speaks.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bomojaz on November 4, 2005
Format: Audio CD
An 8-CD box set is a major investment for most people, but without a doubt this set is worth every penny. After recording for mainly Savoy and Aladdin for a few years after the war, Lester signed on with Norman Granz's Verve label (Clef/Norgran/Verve) and remained with the label for the last ten years of his life. Lester's entire recording career going back to the Basie days spanned only about 23 years, so this box set gathers almost half (time-wise) of Pres's recorded output.

It's an exhilarating compilation of music, and captures some of Lester's finest post-war performances on the earlier discs, while tracing his gradual at first, and then very sudden, decline in power as his health became poor. The first 3 discs are virtually flawless, with one gem after another flowing from Young's tenor. Beginning with the famous trio date with Nat Cole and Buddy Rich that produced the masterpieces BACK TO THE LAND and I WANT TO BE HAPPY (though the sound here and on every CD issue of this date I've listened to isn't as good as the LP re-issue from the 1970s) and continuing with lengthy sessions with Hank Jones, John Lewis, and Oscar Peterson, the music remains at a very high level. THREE LITTLE WORDS, IT ALL DEPENDS ON YOU, NEENAH,, JEEPERS CREEPERS, AD LIB BLUES, a gorgeous STAR DUST, among many others all capture Pres laying down unforgettable jazz performances.

In the early '50s he established a working band that included Jesse Drakes on trumpet, and quite a few sessions feature this group. And as the decade continued he also recorded with Sweets Edison and Roy Eldridge. By 1956, however, Lester's health began to suffer, and so did his recordings.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 20, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This set is a thing of beauty. The music swings and is full of blues and ballads by a man who could tell a story. The critera Prez was after was beauty and his playing is all that. You get the six classics albums on verve (see below) plus others and two interviews, and a 140 page booklet. The sound is great and the guests are a whos who of great jazz. As far as the very last cd and Prez's playing-well give the man a break-he just got out of the hospital, but the backup band more than make up for it. The Oscar Peterson session is wonderful but is not "all you need"-if you like pure swinging beautiful music here you go. don't listen to critics-listen to the music. Prez was critisized when he didn't sound like Coleman Hawkins and now is critisized for not sounding like he did when he played with Count Basie-this is addressed during one of the interviews. He didn't want to sound like he did with basie-here he is featured at his best. A desert island set for sure.
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