Under the Stars
Ode to Bud Powell
Billy Lester (piano)
Recorded October 2010 to August 2011
This is assuredly a Lesterian project. The music is by Billy Lester, the artwork is by Julia Eisen Lester, and the liner notes by James Lester. The
engineer is not affiliated to the Lester family, so far as I know.
is a kind of suite, opening with a Prologue and closing with a scripted Encore. It enshrines Billy Lester's musical direction in ways that reflect his
interest in active dissonances, the occasional bluesy vamp and hints of polished Boogie. The milieu is nevertheless Bop, as the Ode to Bud Powell
should suggest and as the tribute to Lester's erstwhile teacher Sal Mosca reinforces. Sometimes he will slip in a quotation, and I detect a Rhapsody in Blue allusion in Under The Stars. But he is not an easy customer, with his busy and dissonant fuelled playing precluding any
easy sense of swing, in a late-Tristano sort of way. Things are better judged on Dark Streets where the rolling Bop lines are well judged. There's
quite a deal of sound and fury on the disc, not least on Bonanza but the obsessively repeated chordal playing and ruminative mid tempo playing
sounds stuck, rather than active.
reprises the feeling; a promising start with lighter textual elements soon becomes bogged down. The theme itself is not strong enough, something of a
constant feature of the album as a whole. I wish Lester had leavened these originals with standards. Literate and articulate though he clearly is - and he
has made some good albums - he comes across here as rather dogged and unyielding.