Wanna Hear Some Music?

Mosaic Records -- one of the truly marvelous specialty re-issue houses that have sprung up in recent years, specializing in jazz recordings of the '30s through the '50s -- have just released a 4-disc set of the Lester Young/Count Basie sessions (1936-40) that is a true marvel of nature. Lester Young, for my money, was the greatest sax player ever -- all you Coltrane-istas, spare me your invective, please; chacun a son gout, as they say -- and these are some of the best performances you're likely to hear. There's some small group stuff (including a half-dozen tracks from a session with Basie, Young, Benny Goodman on clarinet, Charlie Christian on guitar, and Philly Jo Jones on drums -- now that's some serious talent for one group) and some big band stuff, and it's all pretty consistently spectacular. Highly recommended.

And if you're unfamiliar with Young and understandably unwilling to splurge for a 4-disc set just on my say-so, there are lots of 1-disc compilations out there worth having. The best, imho, may well be the one put together as a tie-in with Ken Burns' "Jazz" documentary from a few years ago -- a fairly execrable documentary, but the tie-in compilation CDs they released were generally quite good, and the Lester Young volume is really wonderful.

T Gracchus (mail):
I think it is inaccurate to describe Mosaic as focused on music of the 30's through 50's. There are plenty of reissues from the 60's and 70's, on through current work. I also note that they are issuing single disks, not just sets. But those small points aside, and they are small, you are right to suggest that it is best source of jazz in the country. Note also the associate store at True Blue Music.
9.10.2008 11:55am
Larry K (mail):
That's Jo Jones of the Basie band on drums on that session with Young, Basie, Benny Goodman et al., not Philly Joe Jones (of Miles Davis Quintet fame). Two very different drummers.
Aha! Thanks for the correction -- I didn't know there were two different Jo/Joe Joneses. David
9.10.2008 12:04pm
"now some folks may have told you that Lester Young is out of style, but we're here to tell you that the Prez is happenin' right now."
9.10.2008 12:44pm
Subtle Palin trolling, Todd.

(Seriously, I love Mosaic: I have about a dozen of their sets, and the quality is excellent. And Larry K, who I should point out is a professional jazz critic, is right on Jo Jones.)
9.10.2008 1:19pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
If you had said the best tenor sax player, I might agree with you. Bird was the best sax player.

Another great intro to Young is on the early sessions with Billy Holiday. I'm sure there are some re-issues of those floating around somewhere. Those are the ones with Teddy Wilson on Piano, Buck Clayton on trumpet, etc...
9.10.2008 1:34pm
Cornellian (mail):
chacun a son gout

Is there some way to post that with the accents correctly rendered, like:

"à chacun son goût?"
9.10.2008 5:41pm
Bill N:
Duffy Pratt--those sessions are available on the King Jazz label. Great stuff, and quite inexpensive.
9.10.2008 5:45pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
There are professional jazz critics? (cue one of a multitude of gags...)

Gotta love Mosaic if you love jazz; (and if you don't love jazz, then maybe you're not really a true American...just foolin', but it's an idea...) I've loved 'em since their vinyl days. Just wish they'd start selling their catalog directly as licensed MP3 downloads....
9.10.2008 6:09pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Frank Zappa said that he had some difficulty with rock criticism because it was written by people who can't write about people who can't play for people who can't read.

I was hoping to find some parts of these tracks available for listening on the web. I thought I had heard just about everything Charlie Christian recorded, but I was not aware of him at these sessions. What the hell, that alone might be worth the price of the set.
9.10.2008 10:47pm
Busboy at Law (mail) (www):
Mr. Young is not out of style. He is also not the best sax player ever. Charlie Parker is.
9.10.2008 11:41pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
Busboy: take a deep breath, think of e flat and say: "Coltrane! Coltrane! Coltrane!"
9.11.2008 7:29pm