“Blue and Sentimental” was written by Count Basie, Jerry Livingston and Mack David. It was first recorded by the Count Basie and His Orchestra on June 6, 1938 and released on Decca.
The Basie orchestra was overflowing with talent at the time and this particular recording of “Blue and Sentimental” is a great showcase for the skills of one of its star soloists: saxophonist Lester Young. Young’s genius has often been discussed and praised by jazz critics, yet at the time his playing, which is often described as cool, sophisticated and relaxed, clashed with the more popular hard-driving stylings of his contemporaries.
One of the reasons why Young’s playing particularly fit in well with the Basie Orchestra sound was because it was complemented by the more powerful approach of tenor saxophonist Herschel Evans, who can also be heard on “Blue and Sentimental.” Sadly, Evans would die a year after the song’s release, around the time of his thirtieth birthday.
Subsequent notable versions of “Blue and Sentimental” were recorded by such artists as vocalist Ella Fitzgerald and saxophonist Ike Quebec.