Kansas City Six: Way Down Yonder In New Orleans


Way Down Yonder In New Orleans


Lester Young (tenor sax, clarinet)


The "Kansas City" Sessions (Commodore 9585)

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Lester Young (tenor sax, clarinet), Buck Clayton (trumpet), Eddie Durham (guitar), Freddie Green (guitar), Walter Page (bass), Jo Jones (drums).

Composed by Joe Turner Layton, Jr. and Henry Creamer


Recorded: New York, September 15, 1938


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Eddie Durham’s arrangement for this 1922 standard is such a perfect one for the swing era that it should be in every jazz education curriculum in the world. But the fairly simple arrangement is also a deceptive one: trumpet and clarinet play the head together over acoustic guitar, bass, and drums, but then tenor saxophone and electric guitar erupt in the solos. Doesn’t that make seven, not six? The answer, of course, is that Lester Young plays both sax and clarinet on the record, and it’s no surprise to hear that his clarinet is as distinctive as the tenor—breathy, soft, high, and endlessly lyrical. Interestingly, while Young’s originality continues to flourish in his tenor solo (who knew relaxed rhythms and slightly displaced harmonies could sound so daring?), Clayton’s relentless melodic imagination gives him quite a run for his money. Durham, here playing one of the first electric guitar solos on record, is no slouch on the harmonies, either. Nonetheless, there’s something special about hearing that one of the great instrumental masters had actually mastered two instruments.

Reviewer: Michael J. West

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