Known as The Prez, one-of-a-kind saxophonist Lester Young practically invented modern jazz through charisma alone. Of course, his playing has been extremely influential as well, quickly establishing himself as one of the genre’s greatest talents before his untimely death in 1959.
- The Lester Young Trio (1951) A-
- Buddy Rich on drums, Nat King Cole on piano and the legendary Lester Young on tenor sax. Quite a trio, and quite an album too. The music is relaxing and nostalgic and never overstays its welcome. Rich’s drumming is magnificently understated, but the real treat here is the interplay between Young and Cole. Their harmonies are divine. One of the few jazz albums I wouldn’t mind vocal accompaniment. Cole should’ve sang on this one.
- Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio (1954) A-
- Very listenable.
- The Jazz Giants ’56 (1956) A-
- 1956 was sort of a comeback year for Young. A successful European tour and the release of Jazz Giants seemed to rejuvenate his failing health. This is one of Pres’ best and most relaxing efforts. Like usual, he makes it sound effortless. This is perfect, old-school bebop.
- Pres and Teddy (1959) A-