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1. Jones-Smith, Incorporated: “Shoe Shine Boy” (Lester Young with Count Basie: The Columbia, Okeh & Vocalion Sessions [1936-1940] Vol. 1, Columbia/Legacy, 2008 [originally recorded Nov. 9, 1936])

The very first recording of Lester Young was already a masterpiece. The tenor saxophone world belonged in 1936 to Coleman Hawkins, he of the intricate, heavy, deadly serious sound that bore down like a dreadnought. In that context, the effect of Young’s effervescent tone, seeming as it did to float over the rollicking rhythmic momentum of Count Basie, Freddie Green, Walter Page, and Jo Jones, is impossible to understate. Likewise for a line that, if it wasn’t as complex as Hawk’s, was nearly delirious in its bounce. It also sounds spontaneous throughout, even in the obviously prearranged hit on the accents with Jones (though not so prearranged that Jones doesn’t fluff a beat). Not incidentally, King Coleman was off conquering Europe at the time; in his absence, “Shoe Shine Boy” served as Young’s formal challenge for the crown.

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