Need a jolt?
Felipe Lara (1979-), Corde Vocale (2006)
Mivos Quartet, live (studio performance), New York, 2013
This I listened to for the first time yesterday. Then I listened again. And again.
Tuesday is the centennial of Billie Holiday’s birth and WKCR (Columbia University) is celebrating in the best possible way, featuring her music all day tomorrow and, because twenty-four hours just aren’t enough, the next day too.
taking a break
I’m taking some time off—back in a while.
Happy (99th) Birthday, Billie!
Billie Holiday, singer, April 7, 1915-July 17, 1959
“All of Me” (G. Marks, S. Simons),* New York, March 21, 1941
Yesterday, I listened to this. Then I listened again. And again.
WKCR-FM (Columbia University): all Billie, all day.
The Day Lady Died
By Frank O’Hara (1926-1966)
It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don’t know the people who will feed me
I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan’s new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don’t, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness
and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it
and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing
*With Lester Young (tenor saxophone), Kenny Clarke (drums), et al.
Happy 100th Birthday, Teddy!
Teddy Wilson, pianist, November 24, 1912-July 31, 1986
“Body and Soul,” with the Benny Goodman Trio (BG, clarinet; TW, piano; Gene Krupa, drums), 1935
“Foolin’ Myself,” Teddy Wilson Orchestra (TW, piano; Billie Holiday, vocals; Lester Young, tenor saxophone; Freddie Green, guitar; Jo Jones, drums, et al.), 1937
The tree of country music has lots of eccentric branches.
The Handsome Family, “My Friend” (2009)
The Everyday Enchantment of Music
by Mark Strand
(Almost Invisible )
A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound, which was polished until it became music. Then the music was polished until it became the memory of a night in Venice when tears of the sea fell from the Bridge of Sighs, which in turn was polished until it ceased to be and in its place stood the empty home of a heart in trouble. Then suddenly there was sun and the music came back and traffic was moving and off in the distance, at the edge of the city, a long line of clouds appeared, and there was thunder, which, however menacing, would become music, and the memory of what happened after Venice would begin, and what happened after the home of the troubled heart broke in two would also begin.
Happy Birthday, Billie!
Has there ever been a finer hour of jazz—of music—on TV?
The Sound of Jazz (CBS), 1957*
*With Count Basie (piano), Thelonious Monk (piano), Billie Holiday (vocals), Jimmy Rushing (vocals), Coleman Hawkins (tenor saxophone), Ben Webster (tenor saxophone), Lester Young (tenor saxophone), Gerry Mulligan (baritone saxophone), Jimmy Giuffre (tenor saxophone, clarinet), Pee Wee Ellis (clarinet), Henry “Red” Allen (trumpet), Roy Eldridge (trumpet), Vic Dickenson (trombone), Danny Barker (guitar), Freddie Green (guitar), Jim Hall (guitar), Milt Hinton (bass), Jo Jones (drums), et al.
Happy (96th) Birthday, Billie!
Tune in to WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University) and you’ll swear you must’ve died and gone to heaven—it’s all Billie, all day.
Billie Holiday, “The Blues Are Brewin'” (with Louis Armstrong, trumpet), New Orleans (1947)Vodpod videos no longer available.
Joan Mitchell, Chamonix (c. 1962), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Once upon a time, before the Gulf oil spill, before Katrina, there was a city . . .
New Orleans (1947)
Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong
“Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?”
More Louis Armstrong? Here.
The impact of the oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill now soiling the Louisiana shoreline was felt far inland on Thursday as P&J Oyster Company, the country’s oldest oyster processor and distributor, ceased its shucking operations.
“The bottom line is that the guys that we purchase from are not working,” said Sal Sunseri, referring to the oyster harvesters who’ve been idled by the mass closure of harvesting areas and freshwater diversions. “Today’s our last day of shucking.”
“Having the guy down the street deliver oysters that were shucked just that morning to our doorstep is an amazing thing,” said John Besh, who featured P&J Oysters at his five New Orleans area restaurants. “The relationship is so valuable, knowing that I can count on them to source the best oysters from the saltiest areas and deliver them in a consistent, uniform manner.”
“They provide wonderful oysters,” said Darin Nesbit, chef at the Bourbon House, whose relationship with P&J is so tight Sal Sunseri helped shuck oysters the first night the restaurant opened following Hurricane Katrina. “Even in times of trouble, they’ve always taken care of us.”
P&J was started in 1876 by John Popich, a Croatian immigrant who took on partner Joseph Jurisich at the turn of the century. In 1921, Popich and Jurisich purchased a shucking house at the corner of Toulouse and North Rampart streets. Alfred Sunseri, the current owners’ grandfather, who was married to Popich’s cousin, joined the company soon after.
—Brett Anderson, “P&J looks to bring oysters in from the West Coast for the first time In its 134 years,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, 6/10/10
You’re right, not only can’t you lip-synch this stuff; you can’t really sing it if you don’t know it in your heart. That’s why it’s sooooo good. [The Pilgrim Jubilees, 6/13/10]
Happy Birthday, Billie!
If I could listen to only one singer for the rest of my life, she’d be the one.
No one gives you more of life.
Inessentials? No one offers fewer.
Moment by moment, no one is more enthralling.
“The Blues Are Brewin’,” with Louis Armstrong (New Orleans, 1947)
“Fine and Mellow,” with Ben Webster (ts), Lester Young (ts), Vic Dickenson (trbn), Gerry Mulligan (bs), Coleman Hawkins (ts), Roy Eldridge (trmpt), live (TV broadcast), 1957
“What A Little Moonlight Can Do,” with Mal Waldron (p), live (TV broadcast), 1958
Want more? Here.
Radio Billie: all Billie, all the time
In celebration of Billie Holiday’s birthday, WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University) is playing her music all day.
BILLIE HOLIDAY BIRTHDAY BROADCAST : APRIL 7th, 2010
Ninety-five years after her birth, on April 7th, 2010, WKCR will dedicate all programming to Billie Holiday. Born Elinore Fagan in Baltimore, Holiday learned songs by Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith despite the instability and tragedy of her childhood. In 1929, she teamed up with tenor sax player Kenneth Hollan, slowly building her reputation as a vocalist. She replaced Monette Moore at a club called “Covan’s” on West 132 Street in 1932. When producer John Hammond came to see Moore, he was instead captivated by Holiday. He secured a record deal for her, and she recorded two tracks with Benny Goodman. She soon began to record under her own name, collaborating with the greatest artists of the swing era. With pianist Teddy Wilson, she manipulated the melody of dull pop songs for jukeboxes, transforming them into jazz standards, and she courageously recorded “Strange Fruit” with Commodore records when Columbia rejected the sensitive subject matter. Though her career was strained by substance abuse and heartbreak, her voice did not deteriorate. As she inscribed the catastrophes of her life on the texture of her voice, it became only more powerful, more haunting. On April 7th, we will examine the life of this great, mysterious artist, but most importantly, we will listen to her voice.—WKCR-FM
You can talk about her exquisite phrasing: the way she hovers around the beat. But that sort of musical shoptalk barely scratches the surface. Other singers may be able to express joy, or pain, or regret, or longing, or other feelings. But how many other singers are able to convey so many different emotions all at once?
Billie Holiday (with Jimmy Rowles, piano), “My Man,” live
I hate straight singing. I have to change a tune to my own way of doing it. That’s all I know.
No two people on earth are alike, and it’s got to be that way in music or it isn’t music.