Monday, May 18, 2009

A couple of youtube videos

I was reading a review for Billie Holiday and Lester Young - A Musical Romance the other day; here's a quote:

Like any good newsworthy event of the 20th century, one of the most touching pieces of jazz history happened in front of the television cameras. On 5 December 1957, CBS aired a jazz special, The Sound of Jazz, which brought together many of the living jazz superstars. Billie Holiday was to sing the song "Fine and Mellow" in a casual group setting. Holiday was close to death, though still one of the most attractive women in the world in her ponytail and plaid slacks. She had been courting a serious love affair with heroin for many years. Accompanying Holiday was a myriad of horn-playing legends. Of particular interest was the tenor sax section, which was comprised of Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, and Lester Young.
Prez, who had wrecked his body with alcohol, was in such ill health he couldn't stand for the duration of the six-minute song. Holiday launched into the song and each sax man took a turn. Gerry Mulligan was first and played a solo in double-time. Webster was next, blowing a beautiful, breathy chorus. And then it was time for Prez. When it was Young's turn he wearily stood up, and locked eyes with Holiday as she sang a song with lines like "Love is like a faucet / It turns off and on". As Lady Day sang, Prez hit every note exactly in time with her and they took off like two eagles riding an air current as they rose higher and higher, way out of that studio and those television sets, circling around each other, Prez blowing the notes that sustained her as if he was the body to her soul, and then they came together in mid-air, as mating eagles will, and plummeted hundreds of feet earthward together, before breaking off and flying their separate ways. People in the control booth had tears in their eyes. It was the swan song of a bittersweet affection. After the show, the two had some brief backstage conversation and then they bid goodbye. They each had less than two years to live. Prez would die alone in a New York hotel, his body finally calling it quits. Not long after that, Holiday would be arrested on her deathbed for heroin possession.

A beautiful description, although I suspect the author was writing from memory, and a very embellished one, too. Mulligan's solo is actually fourth, after Prez, and there's maybe one bar in double time out of two choruses. The brass section riffs behind her, but none of this interlocking duo "like mating eagles" ever actually happens. The performance is great, the writing is beautiful, it's a pity they don't quite match...

Billie Holiday - Fine and Mellow (1957)

T-Bone Walker w/ Jazz At The Philharmonic - Live in UK 1966, playing Woman, You Must Be Crazy and Goin' To Chicago Blues
Dizzy Gillespie - t, Clark Terry - t, Coleman Hawkins - ts, Zoot Sims - ts, Jimmy Moody - ts, Benny Carter - as, Teddy Wilson - p, Louis Bellson - d, and Bob Cranshaw - b.
It's Clark Terry taking a solo at 3:10 and he is playing a trumpet mouthpiece.

1 comment:

  1. Let me vote for more selected youtube links. It is the easiest way of music education (of any education for that matter) to those of us who have attention span of sluggish drosophila.

    Как же непросто писать на аглицком, божтыжмой!