The "Prez" in Washington D.C.
Music lover | Burnsville, MN United States | 01/29/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"...what could be more appropriate? (This review applies to vol. 2 and well as the other 4 volumes.)
It's 1956 and we find Lester "Pres" Young playing during a week's stint at Olivia's Patio Lounge backed by their house band, the Bill Pott's Trio. Lester was reluctant to allow these recordings (intended for Bill Potts' personal use) because of his recording commitment to Norman Granz, but a lot of persuading and a little bribery resulted in 5 volumes which were eventually released 24 years later.
The Bill Potts Trio is not the first trio anyone would choose for a studio session, but they were certainly an adequate and a sympathetic trio which allowed Pres to relax and play in fine form. These recordings turned out to be priceless examples showing some of Pres' best playing in his later years. (He would pass away 3 years later in 1959.) Narrow-minded critics who dismiss Lester's later work need only listen to these recordings to hear that he still had a firm grip on his playing skills and was far from gone. His playing is smooth, relaxed and mature without need of "saxophone gymnastics" played in an effort to try and prove somthing he proved long ago.
Lester is generous in allowing each of the trio members solo space. The weak link here is the drummer Jim Lucht. While he is adequate in the background as a time keeper, I find his soloing efforts to be a little awkward and amateurish. His trade-offs with Lester get a bit tedious.
That criticism aside, Lester's playing rises above it all making them all a worth-while listen. Die-hard fans will probably want to own them all. Less ardent fans will definitely want to give them a listen, but would probably want to start elsewhere. I'd highly recommend at least 8 great starting points: Lester's Kansas City and Aladdin sessions, "Blue Lester", "Lester Young and the Oscar Peterson Trio", "Pres and Teddy", "Pres and Sweets", "The Lester Young Trio", or "The Jazz Giants". All 8 would warrant a 4 or 5 star rating.
As for Lester Young in Washington D.C. vol 2, (as well as the other 4 volumes) I'd give them 3 1/2 stars. They're good Pres, and all worth a listen."