Lester Young: Crazy Over J-Z


Crazy Over J-Z


Lester Young (tenor sax)


Blue Lester: The Immortal Lester Young (Savoy SV-0112)

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Lester Young (tenor sax),

Jesse Drakes (trumpet), Jerry Elliott (trombone), Junior Mance (piano), Leroy Jackson (bass), Roy Haynes (drums)


Composed by Lester Young


Recorded: New York, June 28, 1949


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

Two months before his fortieth birthday, Young is having the time of his life at the Royal Roost—unaware, perhaps, of his impending undoing via his ever-present whiskey bottle. Still, “Crazy Over J-Z” (a reference to New York jazz radio station WJZ) ranks easily with Lester’s work in his prime. Even the heavier touch he’d exhibited just after the war is gone: The sax is merrily agile, dancing over the rhythm section’s comping and darting between horn riffs. He even toys with the new sounds of bebop: Some licks in his responses to the riffs, and one early in his second solo, sound suspiciously like phrases from Charlie Parker’s “Ornithology.” (Incidentally, behind Young is the early snap-crackle of drummer Roy Haynes, who would in a few months would join Parker’s quintet). The fact that it would go downhill so fast from here may amplify its effects, but either way the record catches Prez in a moment of inspiration.

Reviewer: Michael J. West

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