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Lester Young: “Pennies From Heaven”

The quintet playing Pennies From Heaven, according to Songbook, is comprised of Lester Young on tenor saxophone, Bill Harris on trombone, Hank Jones on piano, Ray Brown on bass and Buddy Rich on drums. The high quality of the video because it is taken from a film, Norman Granz at Montreux Jazz: Improvisation.

A straight bio of Young, who was known as Prez, is posed at PBS. A look at his style can be found at NPR. Here is an excerpt of the NPR piece, which was written by Tom Vitale:

Sweetness is what Young was all about. When he started to gain attention, the dominant style of the day was the aggressive, hard-driving saxophone of Coleman Hawkins. But Young played in the upper range of his tenor in a lyrical, relaxed style.

It is a nice feature, and here is another. Here is Goodbye Pork Pie HatThe latter was written in honor of Young by bassist Charlie Mingus, who is among the performers in the clip. It was later renamed Theme for Lester Young, according to Wikipedia. Young traditionally wore a pork pie hat.

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.