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The Complete Aladdin Recordings of Lester Young

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 26, 1995
$35.00 $1.95

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Editorial Reviews

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Lester Young recorded for the Aladdin label between December 1945 and December 1947, leading a series of small groups that would range in size from quintets to a septet. While Young's solos were a marvelous paradox of the languid and the taut, his approach to putting a group together could be simply casual. His sidemen here come from both the ranks of the justly celebrated and the journeymen, whose names have all but disappeared from jazz history. The bands can include collisions of swing era stalwarts and dedicated boppers. Something of that's apparent in the first Aladdin session, where trombonist Vic Dickenson and pianist Dodo Marmarosa seem to have the blues in different languages on Young's eloquent "D.B. Blues." It seems to have mattered little to Young, who was in many ways a school of one. His playing here is usually at a level that others only dream about, creating a linear flow that has its own superior internal logic, whether the subject at hand is a standard, a blues, or an uptempo variant on "I Got Rhythm." His sound is one of the marvels of jazz, not just for its airy transparency but for its flexibility, the way a line is constantly shaded with gently honking punctuations and a hint of gravel. In addition to the Aladdin sessions, this two-CD set includes a 1942 trio date that's focused on standards and has Nat "King" Cole on piano and Red Callendar on bass. Young's solo on "Indiana" is one of his marvels of multidimensional swing. There's also a 1945 session with singer Helen Humes that has terrific input from trumpeter Snooky Young and altoist Willie Smith as well as Young. --Stuart Broomer
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 26, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Blue Note Records
  • ASIN: B000005H09
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,792 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This collection covers a wide time-span in Lester's recording life and one can see a vast difference from first to last. The "early" (1942) cuts, with Nat King Cole are nimble and swinging on Lester's part - a tribute to his innate time when you consider they were recorded minus drums. "Indiana" and "Tea For Two" are particularly brilliant: very much like his Basie+Billie period recordings a few years before but with a touch of the ethereal. It is a treat to hear Lester stretch for more than a chorus or two. The radical change in Lester came (NOT with the advent of WW11 as some reviewers suggest) AFTER Lester's return from his disastrous army stint in 1945. His timing never quite recovers and he tends to rely on his own cliches. That being said, there are moments of absolute genius and beauty in his 1945-1958 period. Thankfully this record captures his gorgeous 1945 rendition of "These Foolish Things" - certainly one of the great ballad performances in the history of jazz! Every phrase is a song itself. This alone is worth the price of the recording. "D.B. Blues" is also a gem of Lester's swing and beautiful sound.
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By A Customer on January 16, 1999
Format: Audio CD
After receiving my C.D. Lester Young I could not stop playing it. Lester was past his best when he made these recordings ( or so the experts will tell us) they must have missed these records.The soft tone ,those beautiful bent notes this is a two C.D. set not to be missed. Lester at his very best. Put this on your must buy list.
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Format: Audio CD
For a number of reasons, Lester Young's sound changed after he left the Basie Band. He changed the mouthpiece on his saxophone, resulting in a darker, lower tone; he suffered from disappointment and depression after leaving behind his buddies in the band for a career that never really took off afterward; his short stint in the army was a disaster; he was drinking and smoking more and more; and maybe he was just getting a little older and somber as well. The result is a collection of fragile, beautiful songs. Many fans don't care as much for this sound as they do for his early recordings, but for me, they are the most touching things he recorded. These are the successful recordings of his "dark" period, which fell apart during the fifties, making a mess of his career. But for this brief period, his genius really shines through.
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By A Customer on May 13, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Unavoidably, Lester Young's recorded output is compared with his pre-WWII recordings. While not in the same class, these recordings are still very good. The main difference may well be in the players supporting Lester Young. Many sidemen are effective rather than exceptional. On the other hand, the spotlite throughout these sessions is on Lester Young. While his playing has changed, as compared to the 1930s, it is hard to argue that the change is for the worse. He has just continued to develop, while remaining a great musician.
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