Count Basie (featuring Lester Young): Oh, Lady Be Good


Oh, Lady Be Good


Jones-Smith Incorporated (Count Basie)


The Essential Count Basie, Vol. 1 (Sony Jazz 4600612)

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Count Basie (piano), Lester Young (tenor sax), Walter Page (bass), Jo Jones (drums),

Carl Smith (trumpet)


Composed by George & Ira Gershwin


Recorded: Chicago, November 9, 1936


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

A sort of dry run for the recently signed, but not-yet-recorded Count Basie Orchestra, the “Jones-Smith” session unleashed what could be called the Lester Young Effect. The tenor sax had been hard-driven and cutting in the preceding era of jazz—the world according to Coleman Hawkins—but Young, in his first time at the recording microphone, sounded light and carefully plotted without sacrificing the instrument’s muscle. In truth, Young’s is just one of many innovations heard on “Oh, Lady Be Good”: Basie’s soft-spoken minimalism and Jones’ hi-hat-intensive drumming were also new ground. Still, it’s hard to get past Lester, weaving and bobbing his way through both comps and a featured solo like a helium balloon in the breeze. Jazz would never be the same.

Reviewer: Michael J. West

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