Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Impact Records: Billie Holiday & Lester Young

Slight change from the regular edition: Instead of focusing on a particular album I'm looking back at a couple of artists. Earlier entries can be found here: Kings Of Swing - Kind Of Blue - Charlie Parker
During my teens I picked up a number of 'Best Of' cds. Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Coleman Hawkins, Ella Fitzgerald, and Charlie Parker were among the featured artists in a series called "Jazz Greats." The three discs that grabbed me were those by Count Basie, Lester Young, and Billie Holiday - with Billie & Pres quickly becoming my favorites.
There is something in this music. What was it that left a teenager from New Zealand captivated?

The discs contained tracks from Lester Young such as: 'Taxi War Dance', 'Shoe Shine Boy', 'Clap Hands Here Comes Charlie', 'Tickle Toe', 'Lester Leaps In' ('Lady Be Good' came along a few years later)
And Billie Holiday: 'Pennies From Heaven' 'What A Little Moonlight Can Do', 'These Foolish Things', 'Miss Brown to You', 'God Bless The Child'
And Billie & Pres together: 'Me, Myself & I', 'This Years Kisses', 'When You're Smiling', 'Foolin' Myself', 'All of Me'
Gems, all of them!

The ensembles contained some of the greatest artists in jazz - Teddy Wilson, Buck Clayton, Roy Eldridge, Ben Webster, Johnny Hodges, Walter Page, Freddie Green, Jo Jones, Cozy Cole, and Kenny Clarke.

Everyone contributes. There's no star on show, just great music.

More than any other this is the music I return to. At the top of my listening list are the Columbia Recordings of Billie Holiday and the 1930's - early 40's Lester Young. As cliched as it is to like the early stuff, to me, this is their best work. Great Jazz Music. If you are interested learning jazz improvisation, check out these two artists - they unlocked so many secrets!

And remember, this was the pop music of the day.... It happened once it can happen again! (as Connie would say).

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