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The House in the Heart: Lester Young in the 1950s

Lester YoungEven as his physical health declined throughout the 1950s, tenor saxophonist Lester Young remained capable of moving and beautiful performances. This program includes tracks with pianists John Lewis and Oscar Peterson, a reunion date with Teddy Wilson in 1956, live recordings from December of that year, and Lester Young himself speaking with jazz writer Chris Albertson in 1958 about modern-day saxophonists. The show concludes with readings from “The House in the Heart,” Bobby Scott’s memoir about traveling with Young on the 1955 Jazz at the Philharmonic tour, and “There Will Never Be Another You,” from Young’s last studio session, recorded just two weeks before his death in March 1959.

Suggestions for further reading:

Bobby Scott, “The House in the Heart,” included in the anthology Reading Jazz.
.
Frank Buchmann-Muller, You Just Fight for Your Life: the Story of Lester Young.

Lewis Porter (ed.), A Lester Young Reader.

Music Heard On This Episode

Miss D.D.
Mary Lou Williams — Black Christ of the Andes (Smithsonian Folkways, 1964)
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Miss D.D.
Mary Lou Williams — Black Christ of the Andes (Smithsonian Folkways, 1964)

Notes: Opening theme.

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Lester Swings
Lester Young — Comp. Lester Young on Verve (Polygram, 1951)

Notes: Variant on "Exactly Like You."

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Undercover Girl Blues
Lester Young — Comp. Lester Young Studio Sessions on Verve (Polygram, 1951)

Notes: L. Young composition.

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Frenesi
Lester Young — Comp. Lester Young Studio Sessions on Verve (Polygram, 1951)
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Stardust
Lester Young — Comp. Lester Young Studio Sessions on Verve (Polygram, 1952)

Notes: With Oscar Peterson on piano.

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Come Rain or Come Shine
Lester Young — Comp. Lester Young Studio Sessions on Verve (Polygram, 1954)
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All of Me
Lester Young — Comp. Lester Young Studio Sessions on Verve (Polygram, 1956)

Notes: With Teddy Wilson and Jo Jones.

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Lester Leaps In
Lester Young — Lester Young in Washington, D.C. V. 2 (Pablo, 1956)

Notes: With Bill Potts Trio.

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These Foolish Things
Lester Young — Lester Young in Washington, D.C. V. 2 (Pablo, 1956)

Notes: With Bill Potts Trio.

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Fine and Mellow
Mal Waldron All-Stars — The Sound of Jazz (Columbia, 1957)

Notes: With Lester Young and Billie Holiday from the 1957 TV show "Seven Lively Arts."

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You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me
Lester Young — Comp. Lester Young Studio Sessions on Verve (Polygram, 1958)

Notes: With Harry Sweets Edison.

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They Can't Take That Away From Me
Lester Young — Comp. Lester Young Studio Sessions on Verve (Polygram, 1958)

Notes: Young's opening chorus on clarinet.

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Interview excerpt
Lester Young/Chris Albertson — Comp. Lester Young Studio Sessions on Verve (Polygram, 1958)

Notes: Aug. 1958 interview with dj and jazz writer Chris Albertson.

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There Will Never Be Another You
Lester Young — Comp. Lester Young Studio Sessions on Verve (Polygram, 1959)

Notes: Recorded in France two weeks before Young's death.

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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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  • Brian Davis

    Great stuff, great Jazz and very enjoyable. Many thanks.. Brian Davis

  • Brian Davis

    A fantastic look back at one of the great Jazz legends.

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