I am not aware that this important recording has ever been available until now. That’s strange, because first, it was Lester Young’s last music statement. He died just 13 days later upon his return to New York. And second, it’s “really good Lester,” regardless of what you might have read about his “decline.” With a Paris-based quintet which included the under-rated Rene Urtreger, piano, Jimmy Gourley, guitar, George Joyner, bass, and Kenny Clarke, drums, Prez and friends explore over a dozen classics, including “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” “Lady Be Good,” “Three Little Words,” “I Can’t Get Started,” “Pennies From Heaven” and a bunch more. As one might expect, knowing Lester’s preference for a soothing, in-the-pocket sound, that’s the order of the day from these five accomplished cats. Don’t overlook Urtreger’s silvery piano solos. Likewise guitarist Gourley. This is nothing less than a major addition to the discography of one the truly “unforgettables.” To the present day, Lester Young remains a jazz original and an artist who inspired countless others who followed. You can hear it in every note.
American Jazz Classics, 2012; 63 minutes.
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