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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,
New member, only playing tenor since last December after hearing/seeing Lester Young on Youtube. Love his light sound, been reading about him but cannot see what type of sax he is playing. Looks like maybe a Conn 10M given the time period; when I hear vintage horns played though I'm thinking maybe a Beuscher Aristorcrat, or King Zephyr although I'm not sure those were made back then. I read that he used a metal mouthpiece (?Otto Link) sometimes with a synthetic reed. Anybody know what the horn was?
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015
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You couldn't have picked a better player to inspire you. The Pres is an entire school of tenor sax style and in the beginning he used Conn New Wonder model I, II
Chu Berry's and then Conn 10M's which you may have seen in pictures. i guess you could say he was a first class Conn man. guilty as charged
 

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there are many stories about which saxophones he played.

Apparently they were all Conn , one way or another, There should be a Pan American, a " Chu Berry" and a 10M.
One of those is this one
MAY 25, 1955

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

This Conn saxophone, number 444,4444, is the saxophone I used with the Count Basie band in 1936 and later. With this horn I recorded "Twelfth St. Rag," "Song of the Islands," "Lester Leaps In," and "One O'Clock Jump"--among other numbers.


http://newarkwww.rutgers.edu/IJS/instrumentsB/lester-young.html

 

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This Conn saxophone, number 444,4444,
But note that he mistyped the serial number: it is 144,444 - a very late New Wonder series I. When you read that these horns are just big ol' honkers it is worth remembering the lightness and subtlety Young achieved on one. I have one in the 144XXX range, and it is a sweet and lyrical instrument.
 

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yes, must have mistaken a 1 for a 4 although all those 4 would have made a great serial number! :)
 

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Pres and his habits? you must mean what he called Top an Bottom which is Gin and Marijuana... no wonder he played slooo00w.
 

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Off topic but I just wanted to add my current favourite Lester Young solo:


His tenor solo starts around 1:10 and is just about the most perfect solo I've ever heard.
As technically impressive and clever as all the music nowadays, IMO nothing beats Lester Young in his prime.
You can keep you're Chris Potters and you're Mark Turners etc...
 

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Your right! :lol: But just try playing with that tone today, and with so few notes. Even if you were saying your own stuff in your own way, no one would hear it as anything but homage to Prez.

Jazz saxophone today is defined by a certain approach to technique and a certain palette of tone colors. It's how we decide who's worth listening to - at least in North America (I see by your Myspace that you're in Wales, so YMMV ;) ).
 

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I read that he used a metal mouthpiece (?Otto Link) sometimes with a synthetic reed.
Prez used in the 30's and begin 40's a metal Otto Link (Master Link model). Those Master Links (the first Otto Link model ever, produced between 1930 and 1935) had small tips and long facing curves (longer then current Links). The story goes that Lester used baritone reeds and cut them to fit his tenor mouthpiece, just to get very hard reeds. I love his tone in this period. In the 40's (1943?) he started using a HR Brilhart mouthpiece. His sound becomes more fragile and lighter later in his carrier, probably due to the change of MPC and his physical condition.

I don't think synthetic reeds did already exist in those days (before the late 40's), but I'm not sure about that.
 

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I don't think synthetic reeds did already exist in those days (before the late 40's), but I'm not sure about that.
Brilhart brought out the Enduro reed about 1940.
 

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Off topic but I just wanted to add my current favourite Lester Young solo:


His tenor solo starts around 1:10 and is just about the most perfect solo I've ever heard.
As technically impressive and clever as all the music nowadays, IMO nothing beats Lester Young in his prime.
You can keep you're Chris Potters and you're Mark Turners etc...
Yes!
thats exactly what I think - and the alternate take solo is also great - I know it verbatim.
Years ago a great guy called Bernard Cash put out a book with lots of these in - I ve had so much fun playing these solos
PB
 

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If you think Prez only played slow, then you haven't really listened to his earlier work. Lester Leaps In and Taxi War Dance are up tempo pieces.
 

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Learning sax andway before, when I wasjust a lowly old drummer...

Lester Young was THE jazz tenor for me.

I am hard pressed to think of a sax sound I prefer more.
 

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Brilhart brought out the Enduro reed about 1940.
Thanks, didn't know that :).

If you think Prez only played slow, then you haven't really listened to his earlier work. Lester Leaps In and Taxi War Dance are up tempo pieces.
Fully agree. Find here some great examples on Youtube:
1936 - Lady Be Good - Lester's amazing solo starts at 0:40:
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeqwPX4T4E0
1937 - One O'Clock Jump - Lester's solo starts at 1:19 (earlier you here the great Herschell Evans on tenor):
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__EH1-U3dCg

I can really recommend the CD "Lester - Amadeus". It contains some numbers of an amazing live recording of a Count Basie Orchestra radio broadcast in the late 30's (including Jimmy Rushing and Billie Holliday). Check here for more info and some short sound fragments:
- http://www.amazon.com/Lester-Amadeus-Lester-Young/dp/B00005YA1E
 

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Here's a nice quote re Lester:

"The orthodox critical opinion was that his post-war work was somehow inferior, but that was not true. He always knew what he was doing and played well until the mid-50s but he no longer sounded so astonishing because half the saxophonists in the business were imitating him".

Always wanted to post that one.

I think you could make an argument that his fast tempo playing was in some ways as influential as his ballad playing eg via Lester Leaps In to Bird and Anthropology etc.
 

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If you think Prez only played slow, then you haven't really listened to his earlier work. Lester Leaps In and Taxi War Dance are up tempo pieces.
I have an album called "Lester Young The Aladdan Sessions'- part of the BlueNote re-issue series. Just to name 3 great up-tempo and might I add really swinging performances are 'Lover Come Back to Me' recorded in early '46, as well as "After You've Gone" from the same session and finally 'Jumpin at the Woodside', recorded in December '47 show the innacuracies of statements that he wasn't as good post war as pre-war. 'Jumpin' at the Woodside' is as modern sounding as you can get.
 
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