Friday, October 27, 2006

Tales of Prez

Another Lester Young anecdote.....

Francis Paudras wrote Dance of the Infidels a wonderful, intimate account of his friendship with the troubled-genius bop-pianist Bud Powell. Powell lived with Paudras and his family in Paris for some time in the latter part of his life. Bernard Tavernier's film 'Round Midnight, starring tenor "saxOPHonist" Dexter Gordon as "Dale Turner", was based on Paudras' reminiscence of Powell melded together with the life of Lester Young, also a friend, who spent a great deal of time in Paris during his final years.

Paudras' has this bit about Lester in his book:

"Lester was one of those people who couldn't pronounce ten words without interjecting two or three juicy curses. People from the south of France have a reputation for swearing a lot, but even they are no match for Lester. In situations where decency compelled him to avoid such words, he would express himself by savory turns of phrase that bordered on the surreal.....
Ray Brown relates that during a bus trip with Jazz at the Philharmonic, some prankster had hidden the bottle of whiskey that Lester always kept in the overhead baggage rack. When he noticed the disappearance of his precious brew, he went through all the racks with a fine-tooth comb. Then he sat down without a word and announced in a quiet voice: 'Whoever it is who swiped my bottle, I want him to know I am an intimate friend of his mother!'"

* pictured above, Lester being serenaded by a flautist at a Paris street cafe.
* thanks to Honkytone for a soundclip of Prez playing "These Foolish Things" made after his army discharge, with Nat King Cole on piano and Buddy Rich - doubtless on elephant tranquilizer - accompanying on drums.

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