Johnny Guarnieri with Lester Young - April 18, 1944 session

In his comments to the third instalment from my series on jazz records advertisements, Michael Steinman appropriately reported about the fashions in jazz hagiography, and how the Johnny Guarnieri April 18, 1944 Savoy sides with Lester Young have been released many times as if Prez had been the leader, though they were sessions led by the very talented pianist.

He is totally right that these sessions were originally recorded and released under Guarnieri's leadership, as the labels from the original Savoy 78 rpm discs (Savoy 509 & Savoy 511) show. On those issues, group is named Johnny Guarnieri's All Star Orchestra, though Bruyninckx discography lists Johnny Guarnieri Swing Men.

Anyway, the group was composed by Billy Butterfield (tp), Hank d'Amico (cl), Lester Young (ts), Johnny Guarnieri (p), Dexter Hall (g), Billy Taylor (b) and Cozy Cole (d) and they recorded four tunes -three originals, named “Exercise In Swing” (four takes), “Salute To Fats” (five takes) and “Basie English” (two takes), and “These Foolish Things” (one take)-, all of them magnificent examples of mid-size ensemble swing. Recording session lasted from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and, in the afternoon, Lester Young recorded another session with the Earl Warren Orchestra, which was actually the Basie Band minus Basie.

According to Bruyninckx and Lord, all the LP issues including any of these tunes were released as by the Lester Young Orchestra, being two of the earliest examples The Immortal Lester Young (Savoy MG 12068) and The Master’s Touch (Savoy MG 12071). But general discographies are wrong once again, as the Savoy twofer LP called Lester Young, Pres/The Complete Savoy Recordings (Savoy SJL 2202) only mentions in its liner notes that this session was made under the leadership of Johnny Guarnieri and gives no exact band name.

Most CD issues, such as the Lester Young - Complete Savoy Recordings 2-CD set or The Chronological Johnny Guarnieri 1944-1946 (Classics 956), have corrected this common mistake and given leader credit to Guarnieri.

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