Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lester Young: Polkadots and Moonbeams

It's a quiet, gray, rainy morning here in Maine. The kind of early fall morning that makes me long for a blanket, a cup of hot tea, and the smooth tone of Lester Young's saxophone.

Here's Lester Young ("Prez") playing on some kind of American Idol-style show where viewers could call in to vote for the best jazz solo of the evening. Now that's my kind of reality TV!

The song he's playing, "Polkadots and Moonbeams," was one of my grandparents' favorite songs. Papa used to call Nana his "pug-nosed dream" based on the schmoopy/sweet lyrics, and Prez makes it sound even sweeter on his sax. To tell the truth (and these may be fighting words in some locales), I do believe Lester Young is my favorite saxophone player of all time.

[Side note: In the comments of this video, viewers note that this was recorded in '57 or '58. Lester Young died of liver disease in '59 and he suffered very badly from the disease for the last two years of his life. It's amazing to me that he was likely very ill when this was taped, and while his notes are sometimes tired, the soul and feeling is still 100% there.]

Lester Young: Polkadots and Moonbeams

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