79. Lester Young / The Complete Savoy Recordings (2002)
No excuses for not having this in the collection. Remastered from original tape and acetate recordings in sparkling 20-bit audio, sequenced chronologically, good notes and packaging. Together these make an exemplary product, but the music is a treasure. Lester Young was such a natural improviser. I read that a lot, and it's true, but words only take me so far. Listening to successive takes of "Ghost of a Chance," "Crazy Over J-Z," "Exercise in Swing," and "Blues 'n' Bells," the truth becomes ever more apparent. There it is, it's happening. Each time he takes a chorus, he's doing something else. In light of the outtakes, I'm by and large very pleased with the tracks selected as masters, which isn't always the case. Like the master of "Basie English." I love the blues lick during Lester's chorus (you know which one!), and overall it's clearly the better performance. But that's actually the second take, and during the first, it sounds like the group is working on something close to what Lester did later. Elsewhere, we hear Lester's processing of the young and modern music that supplanted the old guard, like those masterful bridges in "Ghost." I listen and feel like he's right next to me, a ghost in the passenger seat. Howdy, Prez.