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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Perfect music for the pleasant winter blues!

Boy here is an album that never gets talked about. This by all accounts was Lester Young's last recording. This album was recorded March 4, 1959 in Paris. Lester returned to New York very soon after and died March 19. How come this album gets nary a mention on the web? This album has been reissued as part of a Jazz in Paris series or some such under the title "Le dernier mesage du Lester Young" (Pardonez moi mon francais!). However, I could not find one review of the recording itself. I do remember after buying it I read a mini review maybe in the all music guide book which said Lester sounded really weak on this session. But when I went to the all music guide this morning (and say while i am on it whats up with the malware on that site!) I could not find a real review or the same review. This album features Kenny Clarke on drums (Klook!), and some european musicians: Jamil Nasser (bass), Jimmy Gourley (guitar) and Rene Urtreger (piano). This is real late night music or perfect music to watch the snow falling outside (as is the case here today). Its almost like Lester's final revisiting of many old friends. The tempos are real slow but Lester's sound is all beauty (wistful though it may be..).. These are all classic American songs: Oh, Lady be good!, Almost like being in love, I cover the waterfront (Billie Holiday), I can't get started (Billie Holiday did this one too I think), Pennies from Heaven, etc..... The liner notes consist largely of an interview of Lester around the time he was performing at the Blue Note in Paris. The interview is by Francois Postif who writes that Lester used to hang out after playing until 5 am having a drink and in fact the interview was held at 6 am at his house with Lester asking if he could talk jive which he does. Its a very interesting interview particularly keeping in mind that its probably the last.... Its also interesting because it made me think a bit about the movie Round Midnight with Dexter Gordon... I wonder if the movie was at least loosely based on Lester Young..Lester does not have nice things to say about Verve record label head Norman Granz not letting him record an album with strings..And he really gets mad when asked about Billie Holiday.. gets mad not about being asked but about how generally people want to get into people's private business about the drugs they do.. Say by the way why did Billie and Lester want so much to record an album with strings? Was it some sort of status thing or they just were really into the idea.. its well known Billie Holiday was happiest with her own album with strings ("Lady in Satin"). Anyways the music is extremely mellow but nice.. The accompaniment is very tasteful....It does remind one of Billie Holiday's latter recordings. Did Lester have the strength of his earlier recordings? perhaps not- but the expressiveness is all there and to this ears this is a wonderful listen. Originally released on Verve MGV-8378 (mine is not trumpter label but is deep groove- I know MGV 8375 Buddy Defranco is trumpeter so there may be a trumpeter pressing around too but this would seem to be early pressing).

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