Posted by: lesterlives | October 29, 2013

President of Beauty: The Life and Times of Lester Young

New Trailer Click Below

I had to good fortune to interview jazz icon Sonny Rollins about the late great Lester Young on June 15th 2013.


In order to raise funds for the film, we are having a silent auction on a Selmer Mark VI tenor sax. #209100 This is no ordinary saxophone. The horn is signed by Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter and Joe Lovano who all have participated in the film. I will be interviewing Branford Marsalis in the coming months and will see if he wants to add his name. The perfectly playable horn was donated by a supporter and is valued from $3000-4000. I hope to raise significantly more. Anything above the value of the horn is tax-deductible.

Horn Sig

In 2014 Lester Young will have been gone 55 years, yet this swinging star shines brightly in the film-in-progress. In the film, Sonny Rollins calls Lester “god”, and a god he was for many players who paid their dues at mid-Century. The four-minute trailer includes interviews with Sonny Rollins, Harry Belafonte, Wayne Shorter, B.B. King, Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano, George Wein, David Amram, Amiri Baraka, Junior Mance, and Gunther Schuller. Collecting these interviews has been an ongoing process for about two years. Here are some pictures from the two-year journey that resulted in this trailer.

B.B. King

Phil Schaap

Wayne Shorter

Sonny Rollins

As a longtime documentary veteran, my approach uses contemporary places combined with archival film, interviews and music to evoke our shared history. In President of Beauty: The Life and Times of Lester Young, the music and America’s troubled social history combine to evoke a sense of this much-misunderstood American genius.

Years ago I began this process when I heard Phil Schaap play François Postif’s interview with Pres on the radio. I immediately knew this would be my next film. I wrote Postif inquiring about the rights. He in turn put me in touch with Michel DeLorme and I secured the rights. This historic forty-five minute audio interview recorded five weeks before Lester passed creates the narrative arc of the President of Beauty.

The film is now at a point where I need to work in the cities where Lester was domiciled. Shooting will take place in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Mississippi, Minneapolis, Paris and Kansas City with many more interviews to come. Ornette Coleman, Branford Marsalis, René Urteger, Monica Getz and Lester’s family are on deck. Interviews with artists, animation that visualizes Lester in his Paris Hotel, archival performances, and contemporary footage of Lester, comprise the visuals.

Today much has been accomplished on little funding. Having only shot interviews, my signature, as well as Lester’s, is not yet on this film. I need to catch the dawn over the Mississippi River, dusk at 12th Street and Vine, the rain on the streets of Paris and the intimate atmosphere of listening to jazz. Lester lives in these shadows of our cultural memory. I need your help to preserve what is here now by bringing Lester Young into focus. I need to connect with the world’s Presophiles to help raise the funding to tell Lester’s story with film. Thank you for your time and consideration. If you have any question please for WordPressHal's Flyer for Web_Lester

Posted by: lesterlives | March 12, 2014

Joe Lovano Interview


Posted by: lesterlives | February 26, 2014

Branford Marsalis January 17, 2014

I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with Branford Marsalis and talk to him about the late great Lester Young.  Here are some of the bites from that interview.

Posted by: lesterlives | February 25, 2014

George Wein May 21, 2013

George Wein was gracious enough to speak to me four a little over an hour about his memories and experiences with the late great Lester, many of which are discussed in his autobiography, My Self Amongst Others.

Posted by: lesterlives | February 24, 2014

Gunther Schuller February 1, 2012

Here is an Interview with the great Gunther Schuller about his experiences and memories with the Late Lester Young.

Posted by: lesterlives | December 16, 2013

Roy Haynes August 17, 2012

Here’s a story about trying to get to interview Roy Haynes.

Roy Haynes

Willie Alexander calls it “a non-stop seagull opera.”  That’s what was going on above the Shalin Lui Performing Art Center in Rockport, Massachusetts. The summer afternoon headed toward evening as low light hit the tops of the waves going to shore.  I watch from the concert hall above the tide where on stage, one of world’s greatest rhythm kings tunes his drum kit.  Roy Haynes dressed in a Yankees shirt meticulously taps, rolls, and adjusts…

To continue reading the full article click the link below

Roy Haynes Story 

Posted by: lesterlives | November 6, 2012

Work In-Progress


Posted by: lesterlives | May 18, 2010

RIP Hank Jones (1918-2010)

Pres outside the 5-Spot Cafe, 1958

Five Spot Cafe, NYC 1958 © Herb Snitzer

Another Jazz Master has fallen. I’m saddened for the family of Mr. Jones and for the extended jazz family. A few months back I began discussions with Mr. Jones’s manager, Jean Pierre Leduc, to interview Hank about Lester. Hank was interested in talking about Prez. We were hoping to find a time, but it ran out. I am saddened that I did not get the opportunity to interview Hank about Prez and his experience playing with him at JATP and in Gjon Mili’s “Jammin the Blues.”

Posted by: lesterlives | May 11, 2010

Lovano on Lester

In August of 2009, Smithsonian Magazine said, “Lester Young…remains a powerful influence on the music. Wayne Shorter, Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano… an elite list of contemporary saxophonists—have all professed deep admiration for Young.”

I had the opportunity to talk to Joe Lovano just before he went on stage with his wife Judy Silvano at Ryles in Cambridge on March 27th, 2010.  Joe never met Lester but his influence was transmitted to Joe through his father, Tony “Big T” Lovano, who played with Pres in Cleveland during the 50’s. Later that evening Joe went on to channel Pres for a lucky group of aficionados. 

Posted by: lesterlives | April 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Billie Holiday

Happy Birthday Billie Holiday, April 7, 1915. I hope by the time we are celebrating her centenary, we can celebrate the completion of this Pres movie.

Here is the last time Pres and Lady Day ever performed together. Her expression listening to Lester’s solo on Fine and Mellow (between 2:56 and 3:15) says it all about their love of one another.

Great big sad beautiful eyes for Pres and Lady Day.

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