Jazz Research Journal, Vol 11, No 2 (2017)

Lester Leaps In: The improvisational devices of Lester Young

Jon P. De Lucia
Issued Date: 4 Oct 2018


Lester Young was a key figure in the early development of swing. In this article, I will discuss some of the more specific improvisatory elements he used regularly throughout his recorded solos in this time period. His famous solo on ‘Lester Leaps In' will be the starting point for this analysis, with a special focus on some of the innovations that Young brought to the world of jazz improvisation. Bebop, cool jazz, and free jazz all owe a debt to Lester for loosening the structures of swing, while creating a new vocabulary. We will take a look at how he did it, and what has made him a lasting icon of creativity to so many improvisers.

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DOI: 10.1558/jazz.31107


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