|Billie Holiday, age 2 (1917)|
The great Billie Holiday was born 95 years ago today, on April 7th 1915. In my personal pantheon, there has never been a greater singer in sheer capacity to transfix and move the listener. Much beloved by her fellow musicians, her own musicianship was of the highest order and her raconteurship emotionally riveting. The jewels she hewed from the mountains of despair that formed the landscape of her life still radiate light today.
For some reason, I cannot look at the moon without seeing Lady Day's face. I do not remember when or why this began and only know that this is so and has been for practically all of my adult life.
|Billie Holiday — Evening Standard/Getty Images|
But in this performance, Billie Holiday just seemed to be sitting on a bar stool, cool, calm and naturally, jes talkin' atcha. I was struck by the realization that everything I had heard on all those vinyls was just her way of talking. But, oh, the things she had to say ...
|Painting by Merryl Jaye|
For me, and many others, the highlight is the expression on Lady Day's face as Lester Young begins to blow his gently simmering blues, the way she nods and shakes her head as the Prez hits that sweet spot. Take a look and listen (Lester Young's solo is the second one, after Ben Webster's) ...
white gardenias sway
under a mesmeric moon
so fine and mellow
The lineup of musicians is given in the introduction by the show's host and producer Robert Herridge. The order of the solos is:
Ben Webster - tenor sax
Lester Young - tenor sax
Vic Dickenson - trombone
Gerry Mulligan - baritone sax
Coleman Hawkins - tenor sax
Roy Eldridge - trumpet
so beautiful...and a happy birthday...great tribute!ReplyDelete
she is one of my absolute favorite artists!ReplyDelete
Happy Birthday Billie!
Thanks for remembering her.
I agree, her expressions are priceless. Gifted admiring gifted.ReplyDelete
What a gift she was to us. That last photo is one of my favorites!ReplyDelete
You really need to get yourself into art publications. These op/ed pieces are phenomenal.ReplyDelete
I have to admit, I'm a Shirley Bassey man, myself. Heh...
A great Lady, one of my favourite jazz singers.ReplyDelete
A lovely mellow little treat of a thursday morning,ReplyDelete
Not only an exquisite voice, but a beautiful woman with a face full of character. Thanks Lorenzo.ReplyDelete
wonderful tribute.... a tragedy her life was so short (44 years) but those brilliant stars so often shine bright but die fast.ReplyDelete
Nicely written, Lorenzo! What a face and what a voice. Great clip.ReplyDelete
She is the top! Happy Birthday Billie! Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
:) The Bach
Never seen that clip before, a real treat, enjoyed every second of it.Thanks ye!ReplyDelete
Love her singing ---- also love that painting of her by Painting Merryl Jaye. Lorenzo your style of writing is like a true poet.ReplyDelete
I wonder if Kevin Costner, was inspired by Billie's natural style of performance when he instructed Whitney Houston to sing that song "I will always Love You" in the movie The Bodyguard (1992) He had her sat on a stool and sing the song. Just musing. Inspiration has to come from somewhere ...
I Will Always Love was not original to this movie Dolly Parton wrote the song. She also sang the song in her own movie.
Beautiful post, Lorenzo.ReplyDelete
Oh, I just adore Billie Holliday, but my, what beautiful photos of her and how wonderful to watch her sing here. Thanks for the lovely tribute. That was fabulous! Happy birthday, Billie!ReplyDelete
I just adore Holiday. Her voice has such extraordinary texture! I used to love singing along with her records with faux-raspiness! She is fabulous!ReplyDelete
I'm so humbled by your weaving of words, your knowledge, your sense of art.ReplyDelete
Of course you would love this amazing talent.
I had trouble with the clip the first time, but will try again.
A superb tribute, and I am glad that it is so embedded with your personal connection to her. I thought I knew every image and song of hers, but the second photo is new to me. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete