(2009–Brick’s Picks, LA Weekly)
Snooky Young has been playing trumpet a long time, long enough to have been lead trumpeter with the Jimmie Lunceford band when it ruled Central Avenue. That was the late thirties, and afterward he had several spells with Count Basie, a stay or two with Lionel Hampton, year with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra and Gerald Wilson, and a couple decades with the Tonight Show Band. Rocks fan will remember his beautiful intro to “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” on the Band’s Rock of Ages. He’s ninety now and still playing with Gerald Wilson and the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. That’s seven decades of playing for people, beginning when jazz (and he) were scarcely twenty years old. It’s a hundred now and he’s ninety. He’s seen a lot of jazz. What is history to us was living jazz to Snooky. He and Gerald Wilson recently won NEA Jazz Master Awards. Maybe you saw it on PBS, Gerald lecturing and Snooky next to him, cracking wise. The stories these two have all the way back to their Lunceford days…. So it’s only fitting that trombonist Ira Nepus got the city to give Snooky a coveted Los Angeles Treasure Award and there’s a righteous free concert at LACMA celebrating it on Friday, the band stocked with Tonight Show band and Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra members like Nepus, tenor Rickey Woodard, trumpeter Chuck Finley, pianist Rich Eames, bassist Jennifer Leitham, and drummer Ed Shaughnessy. They’ll even be doing a Lunceford tune or two.