Video cover (19.7k) Lester Young & Billie Holiday
Green Line SRL - Italy
Total running time 48 min. - B & W

Even if Lester and Billie weren't performing together in the last track of this tape, the idea of pairing them up in the same volume of the "Jazz and Jazz Video Collection" would be a good one. In fact Lady and Pres, as they called each other (and then adopted shortly afterwards by jazz lovers) were totally compatible as musicians and as people.

Our collection starts with the world famed short movie Jammin' the blues.

One would be tempted to call it a documentary, but it isn't. Gjon Mili who directed the short, built up with images as Young and his musician friends did with notes.

As soon as the jam is over we are introduced to a 1935 short called Symphony in Black (the general idea being clearly outlined by the first scene). It's a very interesting Duke Ellington piece and is rare because it shows a very young Billie Holiday. She has a minor role and sings just a few bars but it's enough to warm up our spirits. What we see is Billie in her prime, shot just after her first recording with Benny Goodman and before the Teddy Wilson serie started. It's a rare visual recording of Billie.

Next we see the Lady paired with Louis Armstrong in a famous scene from "The New Orleans" feature film.

They rarely shared the spotlight together but each time they did without exception, it was a gas! The same gives to the two tracks of Billie accompanied by the band of his ex-boss, Bill "Count" Basie. The Lady sings two of the few songs she wrote herself and it cooks.

Incidentally, here you get some of the best looking Lady Day you may look for: a real beauty.

The following shots show her in a very bad light, especially Don't explain.

By then the most glamorous jazz-lady-ever was showing such evident signs of illness that it really breaks our hearts. Nevertheless the music is fantastic as always. In order to leave you with less disturbing images we have decided to break the strict chronological and put the fantastic Fine and Mellow at the end of the tape.

Anyone who knows the signs of hard drug addiction can see them on Billie's face but despite this, she's really charming here.

Music wise it's very important to have her surrounded by such an assembly of jazz stars. She alternates her vocal parts with beautiful solos by great people like Hawkins, Eldridge, Webster and Mulligan but she reaches the top when she sings after Lester Young's solo.

Incidentally, if you are not moved by the seduction of her by Pres while soloing, you must really have a heart of stone.


"JAMMIN' THE BLUES" Hollywood, 1944 Harry Edison (trumpet); Lester Young (tenor sax); Marlowe Morris (piano); Barney Kessel (guitar); Red Callender (bass); Sidney Catlett (drums); Mary Bryant (vocal).
1. Midnight Symphony (Young) 2'47"
2. On the Sunny Side of the Street (McHugh - Fields) 3'00"

same session

Harry Edison (trumpet); Lester Young, Illinois Jacquet (tenor sax); Marlowe Morris (piano); Barney Kessel (guitar); John Simmons (bass); Jo Jones (drums)

3. Jammin' the Blues (Jacquet) 4'00"

"SYMPHONY IN BLACK" New York, March 1935

Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra

Billie Holiday (vocal); Arthur Whetsol, Freddy Jenkins, Cootie Williams (trumpet); Lawrence Brown, Joe Nanton, Juan Tizol (trombone); Barney Bigard (clarinet, tenor sax); Johnny Hodges (alto sax); Marshall Royal (alto sax); Harry Carney (baritone sax); Duke Ellington (piano); Fred Guy (guitar); Weliman Braud (bass); Sonny Greer (drums).
4. The Laborers (Ellington) 2'12"
5. A Triangle (Ellington) 3'45"
6. A Hymn of Sorrow (Ellington) 1'42"
7. Harlem Rhythm (Ellington) 1'10"

FROM "NEW ORLEANS - Los Angeles, fall, 1946

Billie Holiday with Louis Armstrong and His Hot Six

Billie Holiday (vocal); Louis Armstrong (trumpet); Kid Ory (trombone); Barney Bigard (clarinet); Charlie Beal (piano); Bud Scott (guitar); Red Callender (bass); Zutty Singleton (drums).

8. Do You Know What it Means To Miss New Orleans? (Alter-DeLange) 1'43"

same, add unknown choir (vocal) Los Angeles, fall, 1946
9. Farewell to Storyville (Williams) 3'20"

Billie Holiday with Louis Armstrong Orchestra

Billie Holiday (vocal), with large orchestra including Louis Armstrong (trumpet).
10. The Blues are Brewin' (Alter - De Lange) 2'04"


Billie Holiday (vocal); Clark Terry (trumpet); Wardell Gray (tenor sax); Buddy De Franco (clarinet); Count Basie (piano); Freddie Green (guitar); Jimmy Lewis (bass); Gus Johnson (drums).
11. God Bless the Child (Herzog - Holiday) 2'18"
12. Now or Never (Lewis - Holiday) 2'20"

BILLIE HOLIDAY - London, February 1959

Billie Holiday (vocal); Mal Waldron (piano); unknown studio orchestra conducted by Peter Knight.
13. I Loves You, Porgy (Gershwin) 2'48" 14. Strange Fruit (Allan) 2'29" BILLIE HOLIDAY - New York, July 17, 1958

Billie Holiday (vocal); Mary Osborne (guitar); Mal Waldron (piano); Harry Shepherd (vibes); Vinnie Burke (bass); Osie Johnson (drums).
15. Don't Explain (Herzog - Holiday) 2'27"

BILLIE HOLIDAY - New York, December 8, 1957

Billie Holiday (vocal); Roy Eldridge, Doc Cheatham (trumpet); Vic Dickenson (trombone); Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster (tenor sax); Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax); Mal Waldron (piano); Danny Barker (guitar); Milt Hinton (bass); Jo Jones (drums).
16. Fine and Mellow (Holiday) 8'07"

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