Tag Archives: Google Alerts


I have a number of Google Alerts for the improvisers I love. This just came up under LESTER YOUNG.  As a jazz fan and academic horrified by plagiarism, I find it both sad and ludicrous.

Now, students can buy a term paper on Lester here.  And, if that were not enough, it is in the category BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT.  The way such term-papers-for-sale sites work is that they offer the “student” the first paragraph of the essay for free and then — should someone’s intellectual curiosity come to a full boil or should the essay be due on Tuesday — the whole essay may be purchased for a price.

Here’s the free part:

Lester Young was born in 1909 in the New Orleans area. This was a good thing for Lester; As New Orleans is the birth place of Jazz. And his father, Willis Handy Young, was a versatile musician who taught all of his children instruments and formed a family band. Lester studied violin, trumpet and drums for a time. But by the age 13 he would settle on Alto Saxophone. The oldest of three children, Lester toured with the family band for some time, often getting into disputes with his father. While touring the vaudeville circuit and carnivals, Lester grew increasingly uneasy about touring the Segregated South as well. All of this eventually came to a head, and Lester left the family Band in 1927. After Leaving, he spent the following year touring with Art Bronson’s Bostonians. While with them he took up tenor saxophone. However this was short –lived, and by 1929, Lester returned to his family in New Mexico. But then, when his family moved to California, he chose to stay behind. Lester eventually found himself performing briefly with different people and bands. In 1930, for a short while, he played with Walter Pages Blue Devils. And afterwards, wound up playing again with Art Bronson, but again, only for a while. He went on to settle in Minneapolis, where he played during 1931 with Eddie Barefield and various leaders at the Nest Club. By the time 1932 rolled around, Lester joined the thirteen original Blue Devils, and while touring with them, he met Charlie Christian. The Band would later disband in the middle of 1933. Making Kansas City his base, young went on to play with the likes of the Bennie Moten-George E. Lee Band, Clarence Love, King Oliver. On one December night, he even got to play with Fletcher Henderson, who was on tour with his star saxophonist, Coleman Hawkins.

In 1934 Lester joined the Count Basie band, an association that would eventually lead to national recognition, but by March of that year, he…

I can’t tell you what the rest of the paper — four pages, 964 words — is or what it costs.  To do so would require that I join Term Paper Warehouse, and I’ll pass on that tempting opportunity.  But I do know what Bessie Smith would have said about all of this, and it isn’t “Gee, that’s swell!”

Lester said he never wanted to be a “repeater pencil.”  Too bad that in death his biography — in microwaveable portions — is up for sale.

May your happiness increase.



Google Alerts is my pal, sending me news of Lester, Ruby, Big Sid, and Louis, whenever their names crop up online.  In Louis’s case, the Alert sometimes has nothing to do with music — there are schools, an airport, and a stadium named for him.  This latest bit of Armstrong-related news was surprising and more. 

A newspaper profile of a man named Herb Armstrong, a handsome Australian singer, appears in the Redcliffe & Bayside Herald.  That newspaper serves the area around Brisbane, including the colorfully-named Deception Bay

I found Herb’s brief sketch of his ancestry intriguing: 

The timbre in his voice is, perhaps, unsurprising.  Herb is a grandson of the late, great jazz musician Louis Armstrong.  “I’m a love-child,” he says.  Herb’s mother Decina met Louis Armstrong’s son, a drummer, in New Orleans.    They fell in love and the result was Herb.

None of the biographies of Louis have documented any children.  Perhaps Herb’s story should be included in the planned Forrest Whitaker film on Louis’s life?  Comments, anyone?

You can read the original profile: