You Just Fight for Your Life: The Story of Lester Young

Hardcover | January 1, 1990

byFrank Buchmann-Moller

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"A Danish musician here presents the most accurate, comprehensive work on a major figure in American jazz: Lester Willis Young (1909-1959), better known as Pres' or Prez, ' from the nickname President' given to him by Billie Holiday. Based on interviews with Young's colleagues and friends, and often presenting his own vulgar scatological words, the book faithfully chronicles the ups and downs of his life and career. Despite his alcoholism, drug addiction, syphillis, epilepsy, and emotional disturbances, Young became the outstanding tenor saxophonist of his time and a dominant, profound influence on the development of bop and progressive (cool') jazz in the 1940s. His solos with the bands of Fletcher Henderson and Count Basie and his collaboration with Holiday are recalled in this outstanding biography." Publishers Weekly "[This is] the big, warm book about Lester Young that swing lovers have been waiting for, written by a Danish jazz musician. This is a rich authentic life of one of the three greatest tenor players who ever lived, much of it told in vivid quotation from eyewitnesses." Kirkus "this is the first thoroughgoing biography of one of America's greatest musicians; its fascination for at least jazz aficionados is magnetic....Along with Porter's magisterial work of musical analysis, Lester Young, this is the book to have on the most influential jazzman between Armstrong and Parker." Booklist "A fascinating and invaluable compilation of raw material...a straightforward, accurate narrative." The New York Times By far the most comprehensive work available on theextraordinary Lester Young, You Just Fight For Your Life is the jazz enthusiast's dream come true.

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"A Danish musician here presents the most accurate, comprehensive work on a major figure in American jazz: Lester Willis Young (1909-1959), better known as Pres' or Prez, ' from the nickname President' given to him by Billie Holiday. Based on interviews with Young's colleagues and friends, and often presenting his own vulgar scatologic...

Format:HardcoverDimensions:298 pages, 9.6 × 6.46 × 1.15 inPublished:January 1, 1990Publisher:Praeger Publishers

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0275932656

ISBN - 13:9780275932657

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?First volume of the big, warm book about Lester Young that swing lovers have been waiting for, written by a Danish jazz musician. This rich, authentic life of one of the three greatest tenor players who ever lived, much of it told in vivid quotation from eyewitnesses. Nicely paced, it sketches in depth Lester's family background in Louisiana, his father's rather amazing musicianship (he played all the families of instruments), his mother's piano playing, and the family's travels on the road playing gigs all over the South. Lester rarely practiced, was a genius who could play anything he heard, as well as blow 60 choruses on any piece without repeating himself while building on what had gone before. Young Lester's great Kansas City cutting session with Coleman Hawkins, then the most feared tenor alive, with Lester, Ben Webster, and Herschel Evans ganging up on the Hawk for an all-night, all-morning battle royal, found Lester cutting Hawkins--and musicians over the whole country soon knowing about it. The story of his platonic friendship with Billie Holiday and great sessions backing her is spelled out in luscious detail, as are early band years with Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson and others, his postwar tours with Jazz at the Philharmonic, years abroad, his alcoholism and pot addiction, and his WW II court-marital for possession, and subsequent ten-month incarceration. To be most keenly relished throughout, however, is the author's attention to Lester's musicianship, his reed, horns, tone, inventiveness, and spirit, a quality that is like a second character. The page with him blowing I Can't Get Started' at Charlie Parker's memorial is not to be missed. Matchless, four starsatisfaction. "This book, by a professional musician and librarian at the Odense University Library in Denmark, is a tour de force, a remarkable and unqualified success. The author's painstaking research has made possible a detailed and chronological account of Lester Young's life. This in itself is a first, and thoroughly rewarding. . . . A valuable appendix lists all Lester's known engagements. And the translation by John Irons is in good, unpretentious English." JazzTimes??Kirkus