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Lester’s Blues

22 May 2019

Lester’s Blues lend their name from one of the most bittersweet songs by saxophonist Lester Young, arguably the greatest stylist that has been in jazz. Inspired by 1930’s small band recordings of Count Basie and his alumni, Lester’s Blues want to approach their music, style, vibe and effortless swing that changed the face of jazz with a fresh and vigorous touch. The septet is modelled after some of the bands the Count had: a four-piece rhythm section with piano and rhythm guitar, and three horns, composed of leading Belgian and Dutch seasoned jazz and swing players, each having earned their stripes through many years of gigging and practice. They will surely cater for a stomping party!

On October 9th, 1936, exactly eighty years before Lester’s Blues begin their existence in Hot Club Gent, a small band recording session was arranged with Count Basie and leading members of his orchestra under the name of Jones-Smith Inc. Not only was it Lester Young’s first recording date (at the age of 26) but it went on to become one of the most influencial recordings in jazz history, still sounding fresh and vibrant in present times. In some way or another these musicians each revolutionized the use of their instruments as well as the approach to jazz music. Walter Page invented the walking bass line, Eddie Durham pioneered the use of the electric guitar in jazz, Freddie Green became the matchless rhythm guitarist creating his unique and sophisticated style, Jo Jones influenced all the modern jazz drummers, Count Basie was a rhythmical master with his economical use of the piano and Lester Young created his own unique soft blowing and lyrical saxophone style which was to become a major influence on all jazz musicians thereafter (Charlie Parker and Stan Getz to name two) , regardless of instrument.
The band was formed by Tom Callens out of enthusiasm for this wonderful music and the deeply felt need to spread and bring back alive the heritage of these men.
Above all, Lester’s Blues wants to capture the raw energetic rhythmic playing conveyed in these recording sessions with the Basie-ites, and not to become a copy-cat band. Automatically, something new will be created while playing the original music as the personalities of each one of the all-star musicians will come to influence the final sound, thus creating something ‘new’, as is always the case in music. And it will surely guarantee a moment of pure exhilaration, joy and sizzling energy for the listener as well as the musician as the rhythms and riffs pound their way deep into the night…

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