Today is ‘President’s Day’ – that is we honour Lester Young.
Lester Young was nicknamed ‘Prez’ by Billie Holiday, who he nicknamed, ‘Lady Day.’ Alongside saxophonist #3, (Coleman Hawkins) Lester Young was the most significant Tenor Saxophonist of the Pre-War era.
Born in Woodville, Mississippi and raised in New Orleans, Young played drums until he noticed that, ‘all the pretty girls had left by the time I’d packed away my kit,’ so, he switched to saxophone! His relaxed, cool sound and ‘hip’ slang set him apart from his peers. He could play for hours and often did in many of the all night jam sessions in Kansas City.
At the time his sound was considered ‘wrong’ but it was his sound that influenced Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Stan Getz and thousands of other saxophonists who came after them.