Nothing recorded on film is outside the purview of The Front Row. Thanks to my colleague John Donohue for sending along word from Lester Perkins, at Jazz Promo Services, that today, August 27th, would have been the great tenor saxophonist Lester Youngs one-hundredth birthday, and thanks to Perkins, too, for including with his message a link to a video playlist of immortal Young performances.
The first, a 1950 performance of Pennies from Heaven, is also a superb piece of film, for the luminous closeup of the artist at work and for the keenly perceptive view of his feet. Young, whose tone was the most tender of anyones, famously liked his clothing soft and loose, and the cameraman on the date noticed Youngs rubber-soled canvas shoes patting the floor to the beat.
In the clip of Fine and Mellow, from the December, 1957, CBS program The Sound of Jazz, Billie Holidays reaction as Young, her dear friend, solos, around three minutes in, is as precious and heartbreaking a moment as a camera has ever preserved. (Both of them died less than two years later.)