Lester Leaves Town

By Cook, Richard | New Statesman (1996), November 22, 1999 | Go to article overview

Lester Leaves Town


Cook, Richard, New Statesman (1996)


RICHARD COOK on the recorded legacy of a tragic genius

Lester Young was a strange man. At the forefront of a tough, macho music, the jazz scene of the late 1930s through to the late 1950s, Young played in an almost feminine way, and affected the style and mannerisms of a gay man, even though he wasn't gay. His famous private language, an argot of phrases such as "needle dancer" (a heroin user) or "Oxford grey" (a light-skinned black man), ensured that only his own circle would ever understand him (anyone he didn't like was called "Von Hangman"). He played the tenor saxophone with a sound that was the antithesis of the big, burly style of Coleman Hawkins. Before Young, Hawkins was the role model for all tenormen. After him, it was an even split. Without Young's keening, sidelong way of playing, there would have been no Stan Getz or Zoot Sims or Warne Marsh. At the end of his life, it bothered him. "If I'm so great, Lady Tate," he said to fellow saxophonist Buddy Tate, "how come all the other tenor players, the ones who sound like me, are making all the money?"

He died in 1959, not quite 50 years old, prematurely worn out by drink and perhaps by a hypersensitivity which his calling could scarcely accommodate. In the 1930s, when he first appeared with the Count Basie band, his playing had most of its idiosyncrasies already, but they were delivered in a sleek, honeyed sound that, for all its lightness, managed to fly out of the big mid-Western Basie machine with incomparable brio. In the 1950s, which is the period celebrated by The Complete Lester Young Studio Sessions On Verve (Verve, eight CDs), that beautiful tone was almost gone, and the phrasing was frequently choked by shortness of breath. But he was still Lester Young.

His playing began to change in the early 1940s, taking a more oblique relationship with the beat, focusing more on a song's melody, anticipating the abstractions of bop and even some of what came after that. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Lester Leaves Town
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.