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The Lester Young Story Box set, Import


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Audio CD, Box set, Import, May 28, 2001
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$62.64 $33.62
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Editorial Reviews

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The Lester Young Story is a masterly, four-disc box set of classic recordings that follows Lester Young's career from his very first session, a small band date with Count Basie in 1936, to a star-studded live concert with, among others, Charlie Parker, Roy Eldridge, and Buddy Rich in 1949. This isn't the whole story, of course, because Young lived and worked for another 10 years, but it covers the period when he was at the height of his Powers, and it is packed with glorious music.

To pick out just a few gems: the amazing "Lady Be Good," the record that first announced Young's arrival to an astonished jazz world, and five numbers in which he partners the young Billie Holiday with exquisite delicacy and taste. Elsewhere, there are most of his show-stopping solos with Basie's band, in numbers like "Tickle Toe" and "Taxi War Dance," and a generous selection from his informal small-band sessions with players such as Buck Clayton, Dickie Wells, and Charlie Christian, including a rare extract from the soundtrack of the 1944 movie Jammin' the Blues.

The last disc consists of tracks from Young's early post-war career, when, unlike many of his contemporaries, he was enjoying the stimulus provided by the younger generation of bebop musicians. Because the tracks are arranged in chronological order, it is fascinating to follow him through his life during these 13 years and hear him responding to the rapidly changing world around him. The 15 months he spent in the U.S. Army affected him badly, but they certainly did not destroy his talent, as some commentators have claimed. The final, joyful rendition of "Lester Leaps In" with Charlie Parker and the Jazz at the Philharmonic team proves that beyond a doubt. --Dave Gelly


1. Shoe Shine Boy
2. Oh Lady Be Good
3. This Year's Kisses
4. Easy Living
5. Me Myself And I
6. A Sailboat In The Moon Light
7. One O'Clock Jump
8. When You're Smiling
9. Every Tub
10. Swinging The Blues
11. Doggin' Around
12. Jumpin' At The Woodside
13. I Can't Get Started
14. Way Down Yonder In New Orleans
15. Countless Blues
16. I Want A Little Girl
17. Shorty George
18. Pannassie Stomp
19. You Can Depend On Me
20. Cherokee Part 1 & 2
See all 84 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 28, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set, Import
  • 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: Proper Box UK
  • ASIN: B00004S2AW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,655 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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4 star
25%
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See all 20 customer reviews
Oh yes, I recommend this set!!
ABH457
Not just for Lester Young fans ... for anyone who likes swing jazz, this collection is overflowing with good music.
Jack Drost
Ornithology, a famous Parker tune, is quite evidently inspired by one of Young's solos.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By ABH457 on January 17, 2003
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
No-one could have invented Lester Young. He just emerged with perfect, unique sense of both phrasing and timing. (His father BTW was a tough teacher -- who also taught Ben Webster). Lester Young was badly misunderstood in his early band days -- notably by the wife of Fletcher Henderson who berated him harshly for his easy, smooth tone and his way of laying out just behind the beat. The style of the day was the heavy stampeding sound of Coleman Hawkins. It was a revolution in the making and Mrs Henderson missed it. That's one reason why his first record session -- the one that produced the miraculous solo of "Lady Be Good" -- was recorded when he was already 27 years old. Oh, what we have missed!!
Lester Young turned the tide of jazz toward a more laconic, laid-back style, and ultimately toward bebop. But until he began to fade in the late 1950s he was one of America's unsung geniuses. It is amazing how few people -- even some musicians -- have heard of him today. You really must, if you haven't!!
These are the tracks that only a few got to hear in their day. Listen to him on the tracks with Benny Goodman and guitarist Charlie Christian -- Ad Lib Blues, I Never Knew, etc. The entire structure of "Lester Leaps Again" with Basie and his rhythm section is breathtaking. So is his floating entry into "Way Down Yonder In New Orleans" -- i.e., IF ITS THE MASTER TAKE. Does punk, or hard rock or any of today's popular musics have anyone with this genuinely original style. Frank Sinatra would not have had the sense of timing that became his by the 1950s had Pres not shown the way in the 1930s.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By "douglasnegley" on August 29, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Proper is a newer label out of the U.K. that focuses on boxed-set compilations of some great American music - and not just jazz. This Lester Young compilation is amazing, especially for the price. Mostly all of Prez' classic early stuff is included - with Basie, Holiday - but what floored me was the inclusion of some of the 1943-44 (immediately before Lester had to go into the war) material with the small Basie groups including Slam Stewart, Sid Catlett, Buck Clayton, Freddie Green, and the "Kansas City Seven, Six, and Five": namely "Afternoon of a Basie-ite", "Destination K.C.", and more. I have most of this stuff scattered on various LPs ("The Lester Yong Story Vols. 1-5" on Columbia, and the aformentioned tracks with alternates on the Emarcy label) but to have a set like this on CD for this low of a price is a dream come true for anyone interested in Prez' best stuff. Yes, his post-war material is still good and valid, but there can be no doubt that this is the cream. I have only a few complaints: Where is "Evenin'" with Jimmy Rushing and the Count? That is one of Lester's classic solos and a classic Basie tune. I could easily do without "Blitzkrieg Baby", an RCA recording with Una Mae Carlisle in 1941. But that is nit-picking. Proper has many other great box sets of Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, and more, with great pictures and presentation. Someone has the right idea. It will be interesting to see which takes of some of these they have chosen. As a huge fan of 'alternate takes' myself, that is an important part of a great compilation. I see no way to go wrong with this set.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By ptc on February 24, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Hard to argue with this one. 4 CDs of timeless, brilliant music, cheap, with good liner notes and, most importanly, nicely remastered. All of Lester Young's most important tracks are here and some harder to find gems as well. If you are looking for a first Lester Young purchase, this is a "no brainer" as they say...
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By bukhtan on May 16, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This four CD set brings together a wide range of Prez's top performances, which can be hard to collect bit by bit. Very intelligent and well-written liner notes. Sound quality overall is very good, with some exceptions. Oddly enough, the famous primal recording of "Lady be good" with Basie and Smith in 1936 is a bit below par. No matter, that one's easy to find (e.g. the Columbia "Essential Basie vol.1). My only other criticism would be the lack of coverage of Lester's recordings from the fifties. Wayne Shorter picks up some these in his selection, "Ultimate Lester Young" on Verve. Of course, the fifties recordings couldn't be included because the fifty year copyright on sound recordings hadn't lapsed yet. Proper is one of the better re-issue labels based in Europe, but bear in mind that they are in some sense "bootleggers". Why is there no established tradition in music of granting anthology rights for vintage recordings, as there is in the literary world?
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 6, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This set contains the best music I own -- Lester Young's playing is constantly breathtaking and moving. There is not a throwaway tune in here. Add the many Billy Holliday appearances and the excellent packaging and you've got a true winner. These CD's have not left the CD changer since my purchase, and I don't expect them to any time soon. Truly amazing.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Hank Schwab on December 10, 2003
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
You have every right to be suspicious of a four-CD set this cheap, but this is great stuff. The selection of songs and the recording quality are both top-notch. I don't know how they do it, but don't pass this up on the idea that anything this cheap can't be good.
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