Defying what has become conventional wisdom, tenor saxophonist Lester Young cut some of his greatest recordings in the 1950s – that is, when he was reasonably healthy. On this wonderful effort with pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Barney Kessel, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer J.C. Heard, Prez performs definitive versions of "Just You, Just Me" and "Tea for Two," and plays a string of concise but memorable ballad renditions: "On the Sunny Side of the Street," "Almost Like Being in Love," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "There Will Never Be Another You," and "I'm Confessin'." This is essential music from a jazz legend. Some reissues augment the original dozen songs with a version of the good-humored "It Takes Two to Tango," which features Young's only recorded vocals, plus a rather unnecessary false start (on "I Can't Get Started," ironically), along with some studio chatter.
This fascinating release comprises live recordings made at the end of 1956, when Miles accepted an offer to tour Europe with a formation called the "Birdland All Stars", which also included Lester Young and the Modern Jazz Quartet, along with European musicians such as pianist Rene Urtreger, bassist Pierre Michelot and drummer Christian Garros. We have here the one and only existing evidence of Miles playing with Lester Young and with the MJQ. It also presents a rare occasion to find Miles playing as the sole horn in a quartet format. As a complement, we offer the complete 1955 Newport Jazz Festival performance, in which Miles played a famous version of "Around Midnight" backed by Thelonious Monk and Gerry Mulligan.
This fascinating release comprises live recordings made at the end of 1956, when Miles accepted an offer to tour Europe with a formation called the Birdland All Stars, which also included Lester Young and the Modern Jazz Quartet, along with European musicians such as pianist René Urtréger, bassist Pierre Michelot and drummer Christian Garros. We have here the one and only existing evidence of Miles playing with Lester Young and with the MJQ. It also presents a rare occasion to find Miles playing as the sole horn in a quartet format.
If Saint-Saëns has been called the French Mendelssohn, in a curious turnabout, Joseph Rheinberger (1839?1901) might be called the German Saint-Saëns. Both composers were accomplished organists for whom the instrument played a major role in their professional careers. Both composers labored in the field of opera, neither, however?notwithstanding Saint-Saëns?s Samson et Dalila with much success. Both composers found their main calling in instrumental, chamber, and, in Saint-Saëns?s case, orchestral music.
There is a touch of the impetuous about Richard Lester's playing of these sonatas which seems to me to capture very happily their character: their somewhat wayward invention, their sense of being formalized versions of a cellist's improvisations. The momentary hesitancies hint at the playercomposer who is deciding as he goes which of the ideas in his mind to try out next. Yet beneath it is a strong rhythm and a very sure compositional technique. The music is very high lying: the cellist has prolonged spells in high thumb positions with quite rapid passagework, and these Lester executes with great brilliance and crispness — there is just one passage, in the finale of the C major work, where accuracy of intonation momentarily eludes him, but otherwise one cannot imagine playing of greater exactitude.
Since none of Mendelssohn's cello and piano works were currently available on CD, this disc would have been welcome enough even without the tenderly nostalgic little unpublished Assai tranguillo (written by the 26-year-old Mendelssohn for his good young friend, Julius Rietz) recorded here for the very first time. Lasting only just over two minutes it ends inconclusively on the dominant, as if intended to preface something bigger.