Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Will Friedwald's tribute to tenor saxophonist Lester Young occasioned by the musician's centennial - Young was born August 27, 1909 - is recommended reading. Friedwald looks at Young's 1943 solo on Sometimes I'm Happy. Friedwald writes that Young's solo "is a prime example of the President (usually shortened to 'Prez') - as Billie Holiday called Young - touched on every emotion known to man in a single, short solo. He's obviously inspired by Irving Caesar's title and lyric as much as he is by Vincent Youmans' melody. Most popular songs present the states of 'happy' and 'sad' as monolithic poles of feeling, but Young seems to be jazzed by the way that Caesar and Youmans mix both together. His interpretation of the tune is both at the same time, a constant state of melancholic euphoria."