Career Highlights

1919 -1927

Plays drums and later alto saxophone in the Young Family band.


Changes to the tenor saxophone while with Art Bronson’s Bostonians.


Joins “The Thirteen Original Blue Devils”.


With King Oliver during the summer and Autumn of 1933. Moves to Kansas City. Plays against Coleman Hawkins in the legendary jam session at the Cherry Blossom in December.


With Fletcher Henderson and Andy Kirk. Moves to Minneapolis.


Joins Count Basie at the Reno Club in Kansas City. Makes first recordings in Chicago with a quintet from the Basie band including Lady Be Good and Shoe Shine Boy.


First recordings with the Basie band and with Billie Holiday.


Records Lester Leaps In in September.


Records with Basie, Benny Goodman and Charlie Christian in October. Leaves the Basie band in December.


Leads his own sextet at Kelly’s Stables in New York. When his band disbands he moves to Los Angeles joining his brother Lee’s band.


Returns to New York and joins Al Sears big band for U.S.O. tour. Rejoins Count Basie in December. In the same month he records  Just You, Just Me, I Never Knew, Afternoon of a Basie-ite, and Sometimes I’m Happy with a quartet.


Records with Kansas City Seven – After Theatre Jump – and with the Johnny Guarnieri Swing Men his first interpretation of These Foolish Things. Appears in the film Jammin’ The Blues. Inducted into the Army in September. Wins first place inDown Beat poll.


Discharged form the Army in December and records his famous version of These Foolish Things in the same month. Wins Esquire Silver Award.


Signs with Norman Granz and tours with JATP (Jazz at the Philharmonic). Forms own band with which he – with shifting personel - tours extensively the following 10 years. Records Jumpin’ With Symphony Sid in October.


Wins Esquire Silver Award.


Tours with JATP in the Autumn, and does this the next 4 years. Plays at Birdland’s opening night, December 15. Records for the first time another of his favourite songs, Polka Dots And Moonbeams.


Records in March one of his best albums with his own band. Among the songs areA Foggy Day, In A Little Spanish Town, Let’s Fall In Love, and Lester Swings.


First tour of Europe with JATP. Records one of his best albums ever in November with the Oscar Peterson Trio with noteworthy and lovely interpretations of Just You, Just Me, Tea For Two, Takes Two To Tango – where he sings and scats – I Can’t Give You anything But Love, and There Will Never Be Another You a.o.


Second European tour with JATP. Wins Metronome poll. Records in December an album with his own group. Among the fine interpretations are This Can’t Be Love, Can’t We Be Friends, and New D.B. Blues.


Performs at the first Newport Jazz Festival in July. Records in December for the last time with his own group for Norman Granz. Among the highlights are Come Rain Or Come Shine, Rose Room, I’m In The Mood For Love, and Big Top Blues.


Tours with Birdland All-Stars in February and with JATP in the Autumn. Records an album with Harry “Sweets” Edison that contains fine versions of She’s Funny That Way, Pennies From Heaven, and It’s The Talk Of The Town.


Records in January two excellent albums, first with The Jazz Giants where he was reunited with old friends of his own generation, Roy Eldridge, Vic Dickenson, Teddy Wilson, Gene Ramey, Freddie Green and Jo Jones. This inspired team recorded timeless, classic versions of I Guess I’ll Have To Change My Plan, I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, Gigantic Blues, This Year’s Kisses, and You Can Depend On Me. The following day Young recorded alone with the rhythm section, and among the very fine interpretations are Prisoner Of Love, Taking A Chance On Love, All Of Me,and Love Me Or Leave Me. Tours Europe with Birdland All-Stars in the Autumn.


Tours with Birdland All-Stars in the Spring, and plays with Count Basie at the Newport Jazz Festival in July. Records with Edison again in July. The result is disappointing, except for Love Is Here To Stay. Tours in the Autumn with JATP. Appears in the CBS television program “The Sound of Jazz” with Billie Holiday in December.


Records twice in February, but these albums are also disappointing, except forYou’re Going To Be A Habit With Me and Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone. Plays at the Newport Jazz Festival in July with Buck Clayton and Jack Teagarden and appears in the television show Art Ford’s Jazz Party twice in September and October.


Plays at the Blue Note in Paris from January 14 to March 13. Records an album for the last time in March, which contains several fine interpretations of his favourite songs, especially I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, Almost Like Being In Love, Pennies From Heaven, and There Will Never Be Another You. Returns to New York on March 14 and dies at 3 a.m. on March 15.