The Resurrection of Lady Lester: A Poetic Mood Song Based on the Legend of Lester Young

The Resurrection of Lady Lester is, in part, a retelling of the life of Lester Young, the great jazz saxophonist of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Early in his career Young left the Count Basie band to replace the reigning saxophone leged of the day, Coleman Hawkins, in the Fletcher Henderson band. But Lester, refusing to imitate Hawkins' bold and breathy style, resigned the Henderson band, rejoining Basie in his Reno Club combo, becoming one of the star soloists.


Young often recorded with Billie Holiday, whom he dubbed Lady Day, becoming a close professional and personal friend of the singer. After his induction into the army in 1944 and imprisonment for, allegedly, drug possession (a photograph of Young's white second wife reveals what may have been the real cause of his arrest), his star declined, and his last days were spent in a seedy hotel overlooking Birdland, the New York jazz club.


There, attended by a girlfriend and sympathetic doctor, he drank himself into ill health. A 1959 engagement in Paris ended, upon his return to New York, in his sudden death.