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The Jazz Giants '56

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Album Review

Even critics who feel (against the recorded evidence to the contrary) that little of tenor saxophonist Lester Young's postwar playing is at the level of his earlier performances make an exception for this session. Young was clearly inspired by the other musicians (trumpeter Roy Eldridge, trombonist Vic Dickenson, pianist Teddy Wilson, guitarist Freddie Green, bassist Gene Ramey, and drummer Jo Jones), who together made for a very potent band of swing all-stars. The five songs on this album include some memorable renditions of ballads and a fine version of "You Can Depend on Me," but it is the explosive joy of the fiery "Gigantic Blues" that takes honors. This set, a real gem, is highly recommended.

Customer Reviews

a gentle genius...

The genius of Lester Young is simple, familiar & swinging. Gentle jazz! Great jazz! Giants is very much recommended.

A Fundamental Jazz Record

Lots of people trying to first gain an appreciation of jazz get the Miles Davis popular seller "Kind of Blue" as THE standard for jazz albums. Saying nothing negative about that album, it's obviousIy a "departure" in many ways from the decades of standard jazz which preceded it. Kind of Blue may have become a standard in the subsequent years, but its focus on modal playing etc make it "progressive" in a self-aware way. I would say that if you want to hear the very core, the center, the holy creation of the cliche, then get this album. Whatever we all think of when imagining that "jazz sound" (shuffling hi-hat sizzle, walking bass lines, limber trumpet articulation, mournful and lyrical sax, etc) is packed wall-to-wall in this album. This album is the standard of The Standard. It's essential to ANY jazz music collection. Though it may be thought to be a feature for the marvelous horn players, I think the rhythm section here is OUTRAGEOUSLY GREAT! Papa Jo Jones on drums, Freddie Green on guitar, Gene Ramey on bass, and Teddy Wilson on piano. If you don't know those names, I've just listed the greatest-at-their-respective-instrument-players of pre-'60s jazz. It's an all star rhythm section playing so reserved, so maturely, so tastefully, that it's beyond comparison. Just get it. Seriously, you don't have to think this one over.

The great Lester Young, hear hear.

Lester played a Band Master CONN , not a French SELMER as often thought.
He liked the large bell for volume.Top of the list for Tenor men.


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) had the ironic experience in the 1950s of hearing many young tenors try to sound exactly like him. Although he spent his earliest days near New Orleans, Lester Young lived in Minneapolis...
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