Saturday, March 28, 2009
Billie Holiday brought a heightened emotional pitch to jazz and blues classics, including this 1957 rendition of "Fine and Mellow." Note how moved she is by the solo of the second saxophonist, her longtime musical partner Lester Young. Holiday called him "Prez," while he called her "Lady Day." Other members of this all-star ensemble include Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Gerry Mulligan, Roy Eldridge, Doc Cheatham, Vic Dickenson, Danny Barker, Milt Hinton and Mal Waldron. Plagued by heroin addiction, alcoholism, abusive relationships and poor health, Billie died impoverished in 1959 at age 44. She left behind a body of work that marks her as one of the greatest jazz vocalists of all times, clearly evident in this outstanding performance.