Phil Schaap Jazz

Little-Known Facts About Lester Young

1. Benny Goodman gave Lester Young a clarinet. This gift is thought to have occurred near the time Lester Young subbed in the Benny Goodman Orchestra for a recording session on March 9, 1938. [Lester Young solos on tenor sax on the master take of “Ti-Pi-Tin”.] On June 3, 1938 Lester Young used the clarinet he received from Benny Goodman to make his first recordings on the instrument. Through June 26, 1939, Lester Young used Goodman’s gift on recording sessions and thus created his definitive body of work on clarinet. The clarinet was stolen from the bandstand at the Hotel Sherman in Chicago in early summer 1939, soon after the June 26 recording session. Lester Young would not record again on clarinet for 18 years (July 31, 1957). 2. Lester Young took the second 6-bar improvised passage by Bix Biederbecke (after wildman Harry Barris stops scatting) from take two of “When” (comp. Walter Donaldson) in the Paul Whiteman Orchestra recording of March 12, 1928, and fleshed it out into the concluding strain of his own composition, “Tickle Toe”, first recorded on March 19, 1940 by the Count Basie Orchestra. The fact that Bix’s solo bit is two bars shy of a typical 8-bar phrase is in part responsible for the two bar repeat (or “tag”) in the final passage of “Tickle Toe”.