Lester Young-isms on "I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)"

Since Stan Getz was the first saxophonist I ever studied in a serious way, it wasn't too long before I started checking out Lester Young. The first Lester record I picked up was Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio (1952), released on Verve (as were most of Stan Getz's major records). I've heard people say that the best Lester Young recordings to check out are his earlier recordings prior to World War II, since those were many of the same records that Getz, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Charlie Parker, Joe Henderson, and others checked out. The thing is, though, that most of those recordings are either found in compilations, box sets, or some form that isn't the original studio session, as most post-WWII jazz albums are released. So, I still haven't seriously investigated those recordings, but I plan to eventually.

When I first checked out Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio, I actually had trouble listening to it: Lester plays pretty sharp at times (check out the end of "There Will Never Be Another You," and I was surprised by how vulnerable-sounding Lester's tone and attack were. His sound is pretty wet to my ears, and you can hear the distinct way that Lester tongues notes so that there's a kind of "pff" at the beginning of notes. Listening to it now, though, these kind of idiosyncrasies in his playing make the music so much more interesting to listen to—it makes the more "refined" and schooled sound of younger players like myself sound more bloodless, lacking in some sort of earthy, human quality.
Writing down an even half-faithful transcription of Lester's delivery of the melody of "I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)" would take a long, long time, so I didn't do that. But, I did write down these two phrases because I liked how deceptively simple they sounded (they were much harder to learn!). 

 This phrase comes at the last two bars of the bridge: Lester starts with a triplet, plays the D on the horn with two different fingerings in the same breath, and lays back at the very end of the phrase so that the b9 comes in a little after beat 2 (the notation doesn't really do it justice). And, he doesn't put any vibrato on the b9! It's surprising, since he tends to put a quick, shallow vibrato on most long notes ending phrases; in this case, he crescendos and brings out the dissonance. All this in two bars!

 This phrase comes at the end of the 2nd "A" section leading to the bridge. I wrote it out just because it seems like a classic sound of his: a short higher note, followed by a triplet and a descending phrase that's segmented by syncopation. The rhythmic variety here is telling — short notes, long notes, a rhythmic motif that's introduced at the beginning of the phrase and used to resolve the phrase (two sixteenths, a sixteenth rest, and a pickup sixteenth). 

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One more note: if you check out the very last "A" of this recording, Lester does a descending scale fragment to land on a note and moves up and down from concert Eb to F and back — it seems likely to me that this is where Joe Henderson got his scalar-fluttering idea, which he does pretty often on recordings, although oftentimes with the whole-tone scale.