“Tenor saxophonist Lester Young, whose storytelling improvisations with Count Basie in the 1930s and ’40s were defined by melodic lyricism and floating swing, was one of the great individualists in jazz history.
He had an equally unique way of speaking, and not long before his death in 1959, he offered a manifesto of sorts:
“Well, the way I play, I try not to be a repeater pencil, ya dig? Originality’s the thing. You can have tone and technique and a lot of other things, but without originality, you ain’t really nowhere.”
The jazz musicians that matter, in other words, are those who sound like themselves.“