Tuesday, May 05, 2020

COVID-19 Level 3: Day 8

Billie Holiday It’s funny how a lot my favourite music doesn’t get much room on the blog. Often I just don’t feel the need to write about it... or that I can’t really express what it means to me in a way that does it justice. The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia 1933-1944 is one of my all-time favourites – a desert island pick for sure.

Some of favourite memories from my lessons with Richard and Connie is working with recordings from this box set. Her unparalleled phrasing and swing - she makes it sound effortless. Some critique her tone and range. But she worked with those supposed limitations and did things that have been seldom matched before or since.

It's not just Billie though, so many greats were assembled for these sessions - Teddy Wilson, Roy Eldridge, Freddie Green, Chu Berry, Jo Jones, Walter Page, Lester Young, John Kirby, Cozy Cole, Buck Clayton, Johnny Hodges, Ben Webster, Benny Goodman and so on! - yet they never fall into the trap of many “all-star” outings. 

Dizzy Gillespie
The concise nature of the records appeal to me and the endings always put a smile on my face. It’s hard to play favourites, but some standouts include “What A Little Moonlight Can Do”, “Miss Brown to You”. How about that swinging opening ensemble work on “What a Night, What a Moon, What a Boy”? Another that stood out this morning was “No Regrets” - I was digging the ensemble interplay and breaks, including the one for the opening vocal line (I think the lyric hit a personal note with me this time around).

Sometimes there’s no option but to reach for the classics, and that’s how I was feeling this morning.

Then it was onto some post-lunch Dizzy with Dizzy Gillespie at Newport. Keeping things upbeat and high energy, even if the exuberant big band isn’t my favourite setting to listen to people improvise, it’s great listening to Dizzy swinging and the band is on form. The downside to budget reissues is they don’t contain the bonus tracks, but I’ll survive. I’ve got a bunch of 1950s Dizzy to lend an ear to over the coming days.

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