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I'm heavily interested in the life of Lester Young as I can't seem to find much info on his life and I'm seriously very curious as to what he was like as a person. Was he as cool as his playing? Was he ever married or having affairs, or was he the shyer type? Did he get along with other musicians well, did he like his job, etc. I also want to know more about his background, to help learn his style better through understanding his character. Maybe anyone that has first-hand experience or funny stories involving him or even some helpful links, I watched a few documentaries about Billie Holiday, where he was merely occasionally mentioned, but there was no in-depth to how they actually met, or what the chemistry was like musically.
 

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There's a great audio on YouTube of him talking which was recorded just before he died. He really was upset by the 'educated' musicians who put him down when he was young. He uses the term "mother [email protected]#&ers" over and over. It's a short clip from a longer interview. A very powerful piece of history to listen to. It's quite strong language and probably not suitable for anybody under the age of 18 or with sensitive ears.
 

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Fascinating, thanks
I really relate to comments like that. There are a lot of people out there who are awesome sight readers but go to water without the music in front of them. There are also a lot of players who are like a machine without expression in their playing. That's Lester Young's strength - playing what he hears in his head and with expression.
 

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One of my students always holds the sax to his side and twists his mouthpiece and head even though I tell him not to. Then I think of Lester Young and think to myself, "is it all that bad to let him do it!?!"
 

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Lots of info is out there about his life mostly written or told by those who knew him. He was a sensitive guy who suffered from the racism that all black Americans had to deal with just to live a "normal" life. But as an artist of great talent it was even harder on him than the average person to be disrespected and hated simply for his race. He was put in the brig in the Army where he was treated horribly and he had problems because of his wife was white. This was a whole other time which most white people know nothing about, and much of that racism is still alive and kicking today no matter how much we like to fool ourselves into thinking it isn't. Haters are always gonna hate and they still do.

https://lesterlives.wordpress.com/

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-e...lie-and-lester-against-the-world-1106491.html
 

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Lots of info is out there about his life mostly written or told by those who knew him. He was a sensitive guy who suffered from the racism that all black Americans had to deal with just to live a "normal" life. But as an artist of great talent it was even harder on him than the average person to be disrespected and hated simply for his race. He was put in the brig in the Army where he was treated horribly and he had problems because of his wife was white. This was a whole other time which most white people know nothing about, and much of that racism is still alive and kicking today no matter how much we like to fool ourselves into thinking it isn't. Haters are always gonna hate and they still do.

https://lesterlives.wordpress.com/

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-e...lie-and-lester-against-the-world-1106491.html
Interesting thread, here :
http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?35219-What-Happened-To-Pres
 

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Here is Lester in 1946. Does he seem diminished? Does this seem more older swing or more bop?


i agree with those who have said that the critics/writers have it wrong. Lester was burning even after the war and he was burning until the alcohol abuse finally got the best of him. Do check out the complete Savoy recordings if you want to hear Prez burning after the war. There is as much joy and passion in his playing as there ever was.
 

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Here is Lester in 1946. Does he seem diminished? Does this seem more older swing or more bop?


i agree with those who have said that the critics/writers have it wrong. Lester was burning even after the war and he was burning until the alcohol abuse finally got the best of him. Do check out the complete Savoy recordings if you want to hear Prez burning after the war. There is as much joy and passion in his playing as there ever was.
Your clip wouldn't play for me(I'm in the U.S.of A) so I'll throw up a duplicate. :)

 

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Here is Lester in 1946. Does he seem diminished? Does this seem more older swing or more bop?


i agree with those who have said that the critics/writers have it wrong. Lester was burning even after the war and he was burning until the alcohol abuse finally got the best of him. Do check out the complete Savoy recordings if you want to hear Prez burning after the war. There is as much joy and passion in his playing as there ever was.
There are really two "legends" of Young's decline. In the immediate post-war period, nobody was saying Young was slipping. However, starting in the early 1950s, the idea that Young had lost it was beginning to emerge.

Later, more contemporary writers, conflated the fact that Young was deeply disturbed by his wartime experiences with this later criticism to create a more-or-less completely bogus account.

The definitive disentangling of the fact from the fiction on this topic is in Daniels' biography Lester Leaps In. Daniels speculates that, in the early 50s, the urge to discredit Young had more to do with reactions to his behaviour and reputation than his playing. He uncovers plenty of evidence to show that many people at the time did not see any decline. That said, Young's alcohol and pot use over the 1950s was murderous. Anybody who thinks he was weak in 1946 simply has no ears.

Daniels does a very good job, BTW, of contextualizing the Positif interview.
 

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Ha. None of the clips play in Australia. We're a bit of a backwater.
 

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Picasso said, "there is no past or future in art. If a work of art does not live in the present, it must not be considered at all."

All of us who listen know Picasso can be talking about Lester Young... PRES LIVES. I got to Lester from Roland Kirk and Charles Mingus. "Good-bye Pork Pie Hat" sent me looking. He is one of our unsung geniuses. Years later I found myself working on "President of Beauty: the life and times of Lester Young. " For the last 8 years I've read pretty much all there is on Lester. One of the best pieces I've come across is by Bobby Scott. Bobby traveled with Lester in Europe during the end of his life playing with JATP. Here is the article. http://jazzprofiles.blogspot.com/2014/11/lester-young-house-in-heart-by-bobby.html

Lester's spirit comes through in this short portrait. I hope that my film will do the same. Please check out www.lesterlives.wordpress.com.
I also post on what is happening with the film at https://www.facebook.com/President-...mes-of-Lester-Young-743747912347422/timeline/

Check it out. If you think that a film about Pres is important, please help me make it. Tell you saxophone playing friends. I've always thought if I could get every saxophone player to send me 25 bucks I'd have the dough to make the film. If you are so inclined, you can donate on website. I'll get your name on the credits. Maybe one of you knows an angel who may want to buy a Mark VI that I'm trying to sell to raise some money for the film. The # is around 201,100 if a recall. When I went to interview Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, Brandford Marsalis and Joe Lovano they all signed it. The horn's worth what $3500 without the sigs. $10K would help me to shoot in New Orleans, Woodville, KC, Minneapolis, LA and Paris. I could write a book here but I hope you go to www.lesterlives.wordpress.com.

On thing I'm working on now is to see if I can get Lester's dishonorable discharge upgraded to honorable. If there is anything I've learned about Pres is that he was a man of honor. Stan's wife Monica Getz is the person who first made that clear to me, so does Bobby Scott

all best,

Henry
 

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I've read each of these and they're all good; part of the puzzle. If I remember correctly "Lester Leaps In" was the most in-depth, scholarly researched one of the bunch. Unfortunately, that's some of it's weakness, as well - "scholarly". The author is a professor of Black Studies who, IMO, tends to see things where they do not exist, promoting his own racial agendas. Nevertheless, for those who might find this a bit academically dishonest but can overlook it, there's a wealth of factual information in this book and well worth the read.

OP, as an aside, Bill Crow has written a couple of books about humorous anecdotes from/by/about jazz musicians and I'm pretty sure there must be some good quotes about or by Lester in them.

Regarding his never playing again like he did before his heavy-handed treatment by Army stockade personnel, that's one of those more tragic-romantic myths that arise and people repeat them often enough that they become "reality". They're also repeated sometimes by people who just don't have what Lester would call "big ears". Any good listen to some of Lester's post-Army era recordings by discriminating aficionados belie this myth.
 

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The author is a professor of Black Studies who, IMO, tends to see things where they do not exist, promoting his own racial agendas. Nevertheless, for those who might find this a bit academically dishonest but can overlook it, there's a wealth of factual information in this book and well worth the read.
Interesting...most of the criticisms of the book I've read have to do with his lack of a really keen aesthetic interest in the music. Can you give us an example of this dishonesty?
 

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You're a smart guy, Rory. I'm sure you can identify it when he square pegs a round hole to make an Ethno-centric point. If it doesn't seem that way to you, well, then . . . it doesn't seem that way to you. :bluewink:
 
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