Track of the Month - April
Posted by: david at 10:44 am on April 17th, 2016
As a lifelong student and performer of jazz, I find that one of the most exciting elements of this great art form is the emphasis on individuality. The evolution of jazz was invoked by many great musicians who played the music in ways that no one before them had done.
Some of these innovators made their mark by playing faster, higher and with more energy than those before them. Others were notable for more subtle stylistic approaches such as tone, phrasing, and harmony.
This week I was dusting off some old CDs and ran across an old favorite of Lester Young. Lester Young was one of the first great tenor saxophone players. His recordings from the 1930’s and 1940’s are full of energetic, lyric, and bouncy phrases.
This particular recording was made in the mid 1950’s and it is a much different Lester than I had heard before. I distinctly remember buying the record because it had an all-star lineup. It features Harry Edison on trumpet, Oscar Peterson on piano, Ray Brown on bass, Herb Ellis on guitar, and the Buddy Rich on drums.
What stands out is that Lester’s playing is much more subdued compared to his earlier works. The phrases are shorter, the tone much more intimate, and the fire from the early years is not what it once was. This is not to say the recording is sub-par. Quite the contrary, this is one of my favorite recordings of Lester Young.
What I love most about this album you can still hear an honest, albeit quiet, confidence in his playing. He doesn’t have to play fast, or loud, or a lot of notes. He simply plays.
You can hear my favorite track from the album, "Mean to Me", by clicking here.
Remember the next time you pick up your instrument to play with honesty and confidence. You will be surprised at how much more you, and your audience, will enjoy the music you are making. I will leave you with a quote from the great bass guitar innovator Victor Wooten, “Nobody can play like you better than you do!”
A graduate of Luther College, David Arnold has been providing high quality private music lessons to students of all ages for over 15 years. His specialties include saxophone, guitar, and bass guitar. Drawing upon his diverse musical background, David provides a unique experience that merges his formal training in music with his professional performance experiences. Students will learn to be confident, well rounded musicians that are capable of performing in a wide array of musical settings.