Why a Film?


Rolling Stone’s founding editor Ralph Gleason said, “If you don’t know Pres, you’ve missed a great part of America.” Pres was born Lester Willis Young in 1909 in a purgatory for African-Americans called Mississippi. He was raised in a nether world between slavery and Jim Crow. Yet in the face of the soul destroying forces of segregation Lester chose beauty. Music was his life. “It was all music, that’s all there was.”

Lester Young was the most influential musician during the period between Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. Billie Holiday gave her favorite player the moniker because he was jazz royalty. King, Count and Duke were taken. Lady Day bestowed upon him the highest office of jazz in America.

Lester’s pursuit of originality and beauty created a place for culture to flourish. In the jazz clubs of New Orleans, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City and Paris musicians created a listening space that brought all people together. As America evolved this became a community that in 2008 helped elect an African-American President.

The mission of this film is to present and preserve Lester Young’s legacy by rediscovering and interpreting his life through the lens of American culture. To inform a new generation who knows little of this time and the musicians who played jazz on the front lines of a battlefield that still burns.


  1. It sounds like an amazing subject — one that is long overdue. I’ll be looking forward to it.



    • Loren,
      Hearty congrats on the Savory Collection. I’m looking forward to hearing what was recorded at the 1938 Randall’s Island concert with Lester. I hope there is a chance to put together some tasty and Savory sounds of that day with the newsreel footage for LesterLives. We are submitting for pre-production funding from the NEA this week and hope for the best. Thanks for visiting.

  3. A great project, looking forward to hearing more as it develops.

    • Karen,

      Tomorrow is Pres’s 101st birthday. I hope by his 102nd the film will be on it’s way toward completion. This blog is my way of jump starting the project. Please tell any fans of Pres to check it out. And if you want to send Lester a little birthday present make a tax-deductible donation to his film.

      all best,

  4. would like to know it seems his whole family doesn’t exist,theres nothing said of his family,he had to come from someone

    • Lisa,

      There are many great books on Lester Young’s life. I will cover his key sections of his life in the film when I raise the money in the meantime I would recommend “Lester Leaps In” by Douglas Henry Daniels, “You just fight for your life” by Frank Buchmann-Moller and “Lester Young” by Lewis Porter who is an advisor to the film. Thanks for visiting the page. all best, Henry

  5. Hi. I really appreciate what you are doing….it’s a fantastic idea……Lester Young is great!!! When you think the fil will come out?
    Thank you.
    All the best,

    • Antonio,

      Thanks for responding and your interest in the film. The boring answer to your question, it will come out when I raise the funding to shoot in all the places i.e. New Orleans, Kansas City, Paris; cut the film together and then pay for the rights to clear the music. I need realistically a few hundred thousand dollars to do that. All my films have been done bit by bit. I still believe in angels and one such angel has allowed me to get to this point. I plan to start a crowd funding initiative soon. Do you think there are 1000 Lester Young fans on the web who would want to contribute to this project? I have a new trailer that I will be showcasing in the coming days please spread the word to any Presophiles. Thanks for writing.

      cheers, Henry

  6. Thanks for the reply. Sure!!! There must be 1000 Lester Young fans out there!!!! All the best!!! Antono

  7. and spread the good news with lester fans and lovers in paris

  8. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Watching your youtube piece reminded me that there are many ways of being inspired by Lester. Hearing the interview was a treat.
    Good luck! Tamara (irksome woman)

  9. That’s a very needed thing you do
    I do appreciate Lester Young, He’s the most innovative tenor sax player together with Coltrane (imho), most of jazz musicians nowaday don’t treat him as something special, but there is still strength to get in touch with, I believe that his style will raise again with the new power and there won’t be bop, hard-bop and post-bop triumphing anymore
    people forgot how to swing, and I hope my generation (1993 y.b) will remind the world how to cat :))

    • Victor, Thanks for checking out Lester Lives. Like Lee Konitz told me when I was talking to him about Lester.

      “I continue to listen to Bach or Beethoven and Louis Armstrong and Roy Eldridge. If the music is great, it is timeless so I put Lester in that timeless category of music that is always meaningful to me. Charlie Parker sometimes sounds, unless he is really playing, or I am thinking of his solo on “Don’t Blame Me” which is what I call a masterpiece, and I can listen to that over and over again. But there was something in Lester’s feeling of not pressing or not showing off or some quality in his playing that makes it. I was just reading a book by Hindemith, and he was describing somehow how the music is absolutely meaningless if it does not ring some kind of response to the listener, and sometimes I can go to sleep on a piece that does not reach me. I don’t understand what is happening. I don’t like something about it or whatever, but that never happens when I am listening to Lester Young.”

      Great stuff huh. I continue to work on the film. If you know any Lester loving Oligarchs who want to support a film on Pres let me know. I’m looking for funds to finish the film. Cheers, Henry

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