What a glorious book! I expected from Dave Gelly informed and perceptive commentary on Lester Young’s music. What came as a rich bonus was the warm light Dave has shone through the veil of obscurantism behind which the jazz genius chose to live his life. How come? By widening the focus to take in detail of the fascinating jazz world that Lester inhabited, all described with a lightness of touch that leads to many smiles – and a few lumps in the throat. By the end of a biography that is surely definitive in the true sense, I felt the glow experienced after viewing a sensitive and beautifully-constructed documentary. Then I went straight to my record shelves to listen again, with ears eager and refreshed, to all the lovely music.
This exemplary and concise study is illuminated by the author’s straight-ahead prose. While fully aware of the musical and biographical details, Gelly wears his knowledge lightly in a way that will appeal to general readers as well as specialists.
Brian Priestley, author of Chasin’ The Bird and co-author of The Rough Guide to Jazz
An outstanding book, covering the life and music of a truly unique musician, by one of the most perceptive and literate jazz writers. Eminently readable from the first page to the last, Being Prez is an essential addition to the jazz library.
Alun Morgan, Jazz Journal International
An exemplary new study.
Martin Gayford, The Daily Telegraph
Tells the story of the saxophonist who spanned minstrelsy and Miles Davis. Enlivened by Young’s camp humour, this labour of love will appeal to a wider readership.
The Observer Music Monthly Best Books For 2007