Cover image for You got to be original, man : the music of Lester Young
You got to be original, man : the music of Lester Young
Büchmann-Møller, Frank.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Greenwood Press, [1990]

Physical Description:
xii, 528 pages ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML156.7.Y7 B8 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Lester Young, the legendary tenor sax player known as Pres, created earth-shattering music for nearly 25 years. Now for the first time, the many Presophiles around the globe and kindred jazz aficionados will have access to a complete guide to Young's recorded legacy in this exhaustive discography. This companion volume to Buchmann-Moller's You Just Fight for Your Life , the longest and most accurate biography of Young's life to date, details 251 recording sessions. Listed chronologically, each session has its own introduction that contains title, personnel, date and place of recording, record label, discographical information with matrix numbers, the number of the newest or most complete release of the actual session, and, where applicable, whether recording is from concert, radio, or TV. The solography lists every solo played by Young, published or unpublished, and contains some newly discovered items including critical assessments of the solos, in many cases illustrated by the author's own transcriptions of the improvisations. Each solo analysis contains song title, form, and the number of takes followed by a listing of the personnel and individual soloists. Included here are notations for over 80 great Young solos and excerpts for many more written for a B flat instrument so that musicians can play along with their Lester Young recordings. Access to musicians and song titles is facilitated by a song index and a name index that keys items to the numbered sessions, and an index of the transcribed solos refer to the page(s) where the solos are to be found.

Musicians, fans, students, and scholars of music and jazz, as well as the general reader with an interest in jazz will find You Got to be Original, Man with its complete solography and companion biography, You Just Fight for Your Life to be the most comprehensive introduction of the man and his music available.

Author Notes

FRANK BUCHMANN- MOLLER, who is a Librarian at the Odense University Library in Denmark, has played jazz since the age of 15. A saxophonist, he appears regularly with a quartet and other groups at jazz clubs and in concert. An album of his compositions and arrangements was issued in 1975.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The most complete study currently available of the life and music of Lester Young. You Just Fight for Your Life is a biography, put together from review, articles, and numerous interviews with Young's contemporaries and cohorts. Appendixes list Young's jobs and engagements from 1919 until his death in 1959 and the members of all Young's groups after he became a leader in 1941. Buchmann-Moller has gathered into one volume a great deal of information until now available only in a wide variety of sources. Much "new" information appears in excerpts from his own extensive interviews. The effect of telling so much of Young's story in the words of his associates, however, is that the reader gets more of a series of impressions about the subject than an integrated, connected narrative. Buchmann-Moller has in large part let the opinions of those quoted stand on their own, without stating his own judgments or attempting to reconcile sometimes conflicting accounts. Bothersome are inconsistencies and errors in spelling, as well as the author's occasionally awkward writing style. You Got to be Original, Man! is dubbed a "solography," that is, a guide to all of Young's recorded solos. Every known date that Young recorded, both commercial and private, is listed. Included for each session is the name of the group, the personnel, place and date of recording, titles with matrix numbers and record label, and number of "the latest or most complete edition" of the listed tracks. This is followed by commentary on the session and descriptions of each recording. More than 80 solos are transcribed completely. The descriptions are accurate and sometimes insightful. The transcriptions, too, are generally accurate, granting that it is impossible to faithfully represent all nuances of jazz solos on paper. It is unfortunate that the solos were printed directly from the computer music programs rather than being printed in a clearer, more attractive type. The layout of the book does not always make it immediately clear which transcriptions go with which descriptions (transcriptions are not identified by name or number). Despite their shortcomings, these two volumes are a valuable addition to the available information about one of jazz's major figures. Small jazz collections can get by on Lewis Porter's excellent (and easier-reading) Lester Young (CH, Feb'86), but larger collections should have the new information in these new works. K. R. Dietrich Ripon College

Table of Contents

ForewordLewis Porter
The Recording Sessions Addenda Notes and References Song Index Index of Transcribed Solos
Name Index