Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
on February 17, 2013
The President (Obama=2ND black president) is captured here at the sweet spot: post-Basie, pre-dissolution. While there are many fine early forties Basie recordings featuring Lester, his solos were limited by time and context. Young is in full command during these small group sessions, ideas get fully developed and with enormous emotional content. Lester leaps into your ear, goes through your brain, and reaches your heart.
Lester's playing is subtle. He can modulate a single note and make it sing, swing, and sting. I (and I'm sure many others) have missed these subtleties due to the poor sound quality on the imported "needle drop" CDs where I'd found most of his small group recordings from this period. I actually came to the conclusion that his playing was thin and weak. The remastering from 1995 is a little behind today's noise reduction technology, but a light hand was used on the Cedar knob. So there is a wee bit of scratchiness on some of the tracks, but the high frequencies were preserved because that's where all the rich harmonics that define Lester's tone dwell.
If you're a skeptic, or new to Lester, you couldn't do better than to start here. Better than 2 hours on 2 CDs, no alternate takes or breakdowns, at a modest price. If you're a fan, this is an essential purchase, even if you already have some of this material (in doubtlessly inferior sound). Although I see from the reviews there are some who still don't "get it".