[Dixielandjazz] Who Influenced Lester Young?

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sun May 9 07:08:13 PDT 2010

 From an interview with Nat Hentoff of Downbeat 3/7/56. Pres talks  
about his influencers and then gives some advice to aspiring players.

"I've been playing music ever since I was 10. I started on the drums,  
but it was too much trouble to carry the traps. So I switched to alto.  
Frankie Trumbauer and Jimmy Dorsey were battling for honors in those  
days, and I finally found out that I liked Trumbauer. Trumbauer was my  
idol. When I had just started to play, I used to buy all his records.  
I imagine I can still play all those solos off the record. He played  
the C melody saxophone. I tried to get the sound of a C melody on a  
tenor. That's why I don't sound like other people. Trumbauer always  
told a little story. And I liked the way he slurred the notes. He'd  
play the melody first and then after that, he'd play around the  
melody. I did like Bud Freeman very much. Nobody played like him.  
That's what knocked me out. I remember when he was with Benny  
Goodman." . . . . .

Advice To Young Musicians: "A musician should know the lyrics of the  
songs he plays, too. That completes it. Then you can go for yourself  
and you know what you're doing. A lot of musicians that play nowadays  
don't know the lyrics of the songs. That way they're just playing the  
changes. That's why I like records by singers when I'm listening at  
home. I pick up the words right from there."

Conclusions: "I think they'll all be finally coming back to swinging  
and to dancing to music again. A lot of the things now are just  
novelties. For me, the music has to swing first."


Steve Barbone

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