A FEW BEAUTIFUL SECONDS OF LESTER YOUNG ON CLARINET: THE FAMOUS DOOR, 1938

The sound of Lester Young’s clarinet is beautiful and elusive.  Whitney Balliett, I think, who always had the right word, called it “lemony,” and it lingers on the mind’s palate in just that way.  There isn’t enough of it on record: a few solos with Basie, on record and live; the Kansas City Six session . . . but now we have about nineteen seconds of beauty — thanks to Loren Schoenberg, Bill Savory, and Herschel Evans, whose BLUE AND SENTIMENTAL (a close relation to CAN’T WE TALK IT OVER) is the foundation for this wistful, too-brief piece of music.

Play it once, play it a dozen times: music when soft voices die lives long in the memory.  We celebrate Lester Young as we say a sad goodbye to him.  A tender man, a joyously elliptical soul, too tender for this rough world, he blazed and left.  “What made us think he would comb grey hair?” said Yeats of another man, dead too soon.

May your happiness increase.

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4 responses to “A FEW BEAUTIFUL SECONDS OF LESTER YOUNG ON CLARINET: THE FAMOUS DOOR, 1938

  1. That all-too-short clip truly was heavenly music. Thank you, Brother Michael for posting Loren’s great find!

  2. Interesting that the photo shows Lester playing a wooden clarinet when he favoured a metal one.

  3. sinclair robieson

    for my money, whitney balliett was one of the great american writers of the 20th century. perhaps the best about jazz that ever there was. “even his feet looked sad” he said of pee wee russell. has there ever been a phrase that described anyone better?

  4. jOhn P. Cooper

    MS –
    That was sweet for certain…and just a couple seconds of Helen Humes to top it off! Such an under-rated vocalist.

    AND – what is the current status of all the Bill Savory recorded donations? Will they all ever be easily accessible? Will they be online?

    jOhn P. Cooper

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