Charlie Parker: Lester Leaps In


Lester Leaps In


Charlie Parker (alto sax)


Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker On Verve (Verve 837176)

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Charlie Parker (alto sax), Roy Eldridge (trumpet), Lester Young (tenor sax), Flip Phillips (tenor sax), Hank Jones (piano), Ray Brown (bass), Buddy Rich (drums),

Tommy Turk (trombone)


Composed by Lester Young


Recorded: live in New York, September 18, 1949


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Charlie Parker's live version of "Lester Leaps In" is marred only by noises that sound like the track was lifted either from an old LP or radio broadcast. Also, sloppy editing occurs in three sections that disrupts proper timing. Fortunately, what is salvaged is a brilliant mosaic of a bygone era, characterized by an apparent aura of cool. While the turbulence of Bird's personal life is absent here, his playing is surprisingly sunny and crisp. Uncharacteristically on top of the changes at all times, he sounds close to his peak as a player. His confidence is infectious, and the song's composer, Lester Young, also chips in with some hair- raising licks that will leave listeners wondering why his breathy tone is not as instantly familiar as Parker's. The duo conjures up an atmosphere of innovation, and while Parker steals the show with barnstorming improvisations, it is obvious that the level of genius being displayed on the stage is far beyond that of the average musician. There is power and force in what is being performed, and despite the production, the music is basically the benchmark for everything that followed.

Reviewer: Marcus Singletary

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