Now that my long run is behind me, as is the post run hot shower, Christmas Party leftover feast and subsequent snooze on the couch, I can have a nice quiet, relaxing afternoon. You see, Kelly and HRH have gone to their own “Girls Christmas Party” – whatever the heck that is* – so the cats and I have the house to ourselves. And, in this case, that equates to a few chapters of ‘Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life‘ (William Finnegan), a huge ass mug of hot cider, a small plate of Christmas goodies and my Jazz Boner, beginning with the ‘The Complete Aladdin Sessions‘ by Lester Young.
This is another album I brought back from my recent trip to Texas, procured from a small book store for $3.00 after an evening meal of nachos and craft beer.
Although it has often been written that the cool-toned tenor saxophonist Lester Young’s experiences with racism in the military during 1944-1945 so scarred him that he never played at the same musical level as he had previously, the music on this essential two-record reissue disproves that theory.
It is true that his attitude toward life was affected and Young became somewhat self-destructive, but his postwar solos rank with the greatest work of his career. This two-fer re-released on Blue Note Recordings (1975), which has four selections from 1942 in which Young is heard in a trio with pianist Nat “King” Cole and bassist Red Callender (oh, and some other dude with the awesome name Dodo Marmarosa) and a rare 1945 session headed by singer Helen Humes (including a previously unknown instrumental ‘Riffin’ Without Helen’), is mostly taken up with Young’s very enjoyable 1945-1948 small-group dates. Highlights include ‘D.B. Blues‘, ‘Jumpin’ With Symphony Sid‘ (which was a minor hit), ‘Sunday‘, and ‘New Lester Leaps In‘, among many others. Minor errors aside (trumpeter Snooky Young is left out of the personnel listing for the Humes date and Young’s final Aladdin session is from 1948, not 1947), this is a well-conceived and brilliant set filled with exciting performances by one of the true greats of jazz.
*I’m figuring it’s a lot of siting around, sipping froofy drinks and talking about “mani’s and pedi’s”, their periods, and other girly subjects that no natural born male should ever be openly subjected to.