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  Listen Up! 9/8/03 Listen Up!

Monday, Sept. 8

The Lester Young-Teddy Wilson Quartet, “Pres and Teddy,” Verve Records. It is what it says it is, a quartet summit meeting of the legendary tenor saxophonist Lester Young and the terrific pianist Teddy Wilson. The session sounds completely relaxed, as Pres – that’s Young, for those of you who never heard anything about jazz – navigates the melodic contours of seven standards. He’s not one to dig into the chords looking for odd turns to take a la the beboppers. The artistry of Lester Young is in the elegance of his melodic constructions, the emotion of his tone. Wilson, meanwhile, supports him most of the time, and takes shorter, more compact solos. Oh, before I forget, I’m not familiar with bassist Gene Ramey, though he does a great job, but the drummer is the magnificent Jo Jones.

Louis Armstrong & the Allstars, “Satchmo Plays King Oliver,” Fuel 2000. This is a spectacular collection of 1959 recordings by Armstrong, playing the songs he’d loved for 40 or more years at that point by his mentor, King Oliver. The sound is incredible, the performances, including many alternate takes, are pure joy.

--Steve Pick

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