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My compliments to Eddie Dean for writing the best jazz piece I’ve read in many a year (“Swing, or I’ll Kill You,” 8/8), and to the Washington City Paper for presenting it.
I’d like to add just one anecdote about the Prez (short for “president of the saxophone”), which I witnessed. Dean tells of Bill Potts and his inebriated trio visiting and sitting in with Lester Young, in 1956, in a Philadelphia club. I caught Young the following summer, also in Phillyat the Showboat Lounge on Lombard Street.
The club had an oval bar, with Prez and combo jamming on a stage in the center of it. He was in good form that night, in spite ofor maybe because ofthe long breaks between the three sets. If these were his waning years, you couldn’t tell it either by his playing or by the audience’s reaction. He still enjoyed something of a cult-hero status.
I was next to him at closing time when he stood on the drinking side of the bar. A beautiful chick grinned and asked him for his autograph.
“Sure, baby,” he replied, all smiles, “but I don’t have any paper.”
She handed him a pen and slid her slick silk skirt up her smooth satin thigh and said, “You can sign right here.”
Prez laughed heartily and obligingly signed his namehis full name, Lester “Prez” Youngin the soft crevice of her groin.
A patron who seemed to know her nudged me and laughed, “Her husband gonna kill her when he see that.”
Prez died the following spring, but I’ll always have that memory.