6. Sam Price & His Texas Bluesicians: “The Goon Drag (Gone Wid de Goon)” (Classic 1936-1947 Count Basie and Lester Young Studio Sessions, Mosaic, 2016 [originally recorded Apr. 3, 1941])
Young had left the Count Basie Orchestra in December 1940, spending the next three years co-leading a band with his drummer brother Lee, starting a trio with pianist Nat “King” Cole, and freelancing with the likes of Sam Price & His Texas Bluesicians (who, despite the name, were based in New York). None of the soloists on this date takes more than eight bars, Pres included. What’s fascinating about this tune, though, is how hard alto saxophonist Don Stovall and pianist Price (who take the first and second solo) work to play Lester-like statements—succinct, light-toned, with phrases both streamlined and rich in melody. Then, of course, Pres takes the mike and effortlessly outdoes them both.