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The "Kansas City" Sessions

Lester Young

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Album Review

This is a CD overflowing with classic performances. The great Lester Young is heard with the 1938 version of the Kansas City Six, a group also including trumpeter Buck Clayton (in prime form), Eddie Durham on electric guitar (where he preceded Charlie Christian) and trombone, the rhythm guitar of Freddie Green, bassist Walter Page, and drummer Jo Jones. The four selections (all of which are joined by an alternate take apiece) are most notable for Young's switching to clarinet on some of the pieces. His clarinet solo on "I Want a Little Girl" sounds eerily like Paul Desmond's alto of 15 years later. These classic cool jazz performances have delightful interplay between the two horns. The second part of the reissue features the 1944 Kansas City Six in which Young (sticking to tenor) and trumpeter Bill Coleman are joined by a three-piece rhythm section and trombonist Dickie Wells. Wells, who takes some very colorful and nearly riotous solos, rarely sounded better, and the four selections are highlighted by three equally rewarding versions of "I Got Rhythm" and two of "Three Little Words." The CD concludes with the four titles by 1938's Kansas City Five, which was essentially the early Kansas City Six without Young. Clayton is once again in top form, and Durham's guitar solos were among the first worthwhile examples of the electric guitar on record. This gem is highly recommended for all jazz collections.


Born: August 27, 1909 in Woodville, MS

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s

Lester Young was one of the true jazz giants, a tenor saxophonist who came up with a completely different conception in which to play his horn, floating over bar lines with a light tone rather than adopting Coleman Hawkins' then-dominant forceful approach. A non-conformist, Young (nicknamed "Pres" by Billie Holiday)...
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The "Kansas City" Sessions, Lester Young
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