"A great artist in his exuberant, "Basieish" youth, Lester Young often proved that in his mature years he could add to the subtlety and feeling, without sacrifising any of the rhythmical power. How could anyone ever have believed that his post WW-II years were a throwaway alltogether?
Here, propelled by Peterson's fine group, The Pres swings hard, starting with the mighty "Ad Lib Blues" but in the very next song, beautiful ballad "I Can't Get Started", shows the greatest strength of his playing on this CD. The name of the game is emotion, reached through mellodic innovativeness and rhythmical subtlety.
Interestingly enough, in the company of a more emotional Teddy Wilson on another masterpiece from the 50's (Pres and Teddy , Young showed a more robust side (a bit more reminiscent of his Basie days, perhaps because of Jo Jones' magnificent drumming on that date), although he sure did show plenty of emotion when playin with Wilson and Billie Holiday back in the 30's...
But here, where the rhytmical support is stronger(and less emotionally original than Wilson's playing on the cited CD), Young's tender side really blooms. Even the songs such as "Just You, Just Me" or "(Back Home Again in) Indiana" are treated more like than ballads than joyous swing they usually bring about...
All in all, this CD, as others have rightly said can measure up with the best in the history of jazz.... Just listen to "These foolish things" or any other gem from this masterpiece..."
Ethereal, Sweet @ Swinging
Original Mixed Up-Kid | New York United States | 01/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This Verve master edition is a beautifully done package and deserves a place in any music library as one of the bonafide classics of jazz recorded in 1952. The sparse sweet nature of the jell of these musicians here is amazing stuff and for those new to Lester Young, an icon whose sax is one of the benchmarks of his genre,you won't be sorry because these recordings are a historical document comprising basically two 10 inch LP issues, an LP and a couple of "sly curios" and banter with Oscar Peterson and his men. The standards covered are transformed and when heard, the opening Ad Lib Blues composed by Young sets the next hour of this CD right. Needless to say, Oscar Peterson is another piano giant and the total package includes booklet, all wonderfully remastered, and as the notes within say is a collection that ranks with Ellington's Okeh material, and Armstrong's Hot 5 and 7's..not that those are the only great times those men recorded..just as Young's work, they did not call him Pres for nothing."
Music I will never forget
ABH457 | New York | 04/06/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first heard "Ad Lib Blues" on a 10-inch LP in 1958 in a dingy record store listening booth in the north of England. I immediately knew this was my music. It has remained among my most treasured discs ever since. It is timeless. Unlike what passes as jazz today, where being able to fast-finger through changes -- with weird 'de rigeur' harmonies conveying little or nothing musically -- Lester Young tells a story, easing you into each next idea, building logically from phrase to phrase until you know him, his mood, the story behind the song, and much about his life. He is reported to have said: "If you don't know the words of the song, you can't really play it!!" Moreover, his sense of timing -- unlike anyone before him -- that lagged just behind the beat, gives his jazz a unique cool manner in complete contrast with the coarser, charging Coleman Hawkins, still the swing tenor hero of the day. Without Lester Young, cool jazz and bebop of the mid-1940s would have launched differently and probably later. Oscar Peterson, who plays throughout these discs, is an ideal Lester Young accompanist. He is good anywhere, but listen to "Almost Like Being In Love". Its a short ballad in which Lester Young plays the theme and then opens out into a some beautifully improvised choruses. Before closng Peterson plays a few bars of the release that are shere perfection. His phrasing is so simple, so beautifully logical, so unhurried and so right for the story that Lester Young is building. Ray Brown, one of the greatest bass players in all of jazz, is fine as always but plays mostly in accompaniment. Barney Kessel is good too but is not really up to the level of the masters he backs. Sad to say, the tension in the music drops a notch when he solos. The main disappointment, for me, is the merely adequate JC Heard on drums. He followa the leaders but adds little in dynamics and support to them that a more quicksilver drummer like Jo Jones would have done. Jones was playing at his best in this era. But don't worry about these tiny negatives. These discs are among the all time classics of jazz."
The Prez got little-gave much!
Steven A. Short | Ocala,Fl | 05/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anyone born after 1959 has no personal recollection of these two giants. Oscar lived on until recently but Lester Young finally succeeded in his slow public suicide as it has been termed,in 1959. Lester was arguably at his best on this CD. Rare is the talent displayed here and for those too young to have experienced the era in person I highly reccomend this collection from two giants of Jazz. It is unlikely that such talent,shaped in part by the times and the shameful tatters of segregation that still existed,will pass this way again. So,grab your favorite beverage and your favorite companion,if available and take the time to really listen to music speak to you. Lester allows enough of the pain to come through so that you are aware of it but not overwhelmed. What really comes through is his acceptance of injustices he could do nothing about but could and does on this disc,get to the heart of the matter. Simply this:nobody "blowed sax" better than The Prez. Sweet,simple melodies for the most part. I haven't the musical knowledge to explain the techniques used nor the blending of the musical voices of talent like this but I can tell you that if you want to know what great jazz played by some of the best ever to play it sounds like,get this CD and LISTEN."