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Hardcover Being Prez: The Life and Music of Lester Young Book

ISBN: 0195334779

ISBN13: 9780195334777

Being Prez: The Life and Music of Lester Young

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

Lester Young was one of the great jazz masters, and his impact on the course of the art form was profound. He fundamentally changed the way the saxophone was played--his long, flowing lines brought new levels of expressiveness and subtlety to the jazz language, setting the standard for all modern players.
In Being Prez, renowned British critic Dave Gelly follows Lester Young through his life in a rapidly changing world, showing how the music...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Do you love jazz?

Well, if you do, and if you are curious to know more of one of its most influential figures, you've got to read about Lester! And if you even play the saxophone, you have to read it for sure. This book brings a good insight into the early days of jazz, and it brings us its human sides, letting us get glimpses of the musicians' lives in that early era. I ejoyed the reading tremendously! Now if you want to know more about him, you need to also get another book: "Just fight for your Life". Together, you will get a great story about this brilliant man and his life's love for the jazz!

Entertaining AND informative

Well written and informative view of young's life, the section about his time in military prison is especially revealing, the psychological goings-on, wrapped around one of the most incredible sax players ever, you will not be disappointed and a fine read. Well done!


This is a good biography of Lester Young and his music. There are more extensive discussions of his life and music but this one is a good read and it brings Young to life as a man and musician. The book discusses Young's encounters with racism and the effect of these encounters on him. It also depicts the plight of an African-American man in the Twentieth Century without getting preachy. The book recounts Young's musical career from its beginnings, through his years with the Count Basie Orchestra, and up to his death in 1959. Young was a musical revolutionary albeit a quiet one. His jazz style was quite different from previous saxophone playing such as that of Coleman Hawkins. While Hawkins was a great musician and one of the leading jazz musicians, his work was more in line with the music of the early jazz era. Young's lighter more lyric style, on the other hand, from his first recorded work onward, looked forward toward the bebop era and beyond. This book gives the reader a good look at a great period in popular music through the eyes of one of its great performers. If you are interested in jazz, this book is worth your while.

Five Stars is not enough

This short book of about 160 pages is IMHO the best of the Prez bios. The facts and folklore are kept separate. The writing style is flawless, elegant and economical. I am constantly amazed and stunned by Prez's early solos even after hearing them countless times. It's good to see Mr. Gelly helping to keep the story alive.
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