Billie Holiday “Lady Day” – Fine And Mellow. Recorded live in 1957 at CBS studios. Lady Day is joined by a host of great jazz musicians that are listed below (the first six are in the order of their solos). The video is a portion of a CBS program “The Sound Of Jazz” hosted by New York Herald-Tribune’s John Crosby. As the introduction John Crosby ends and the music begins, Lady Day gives a brief personal, but compelling, definition of the blues. This particular segment brought together artists featured during the program.
Two of these artists, Lady Day and Lester Young, were close friends at one time, but now estranged. However, during Lester Young’s solo (solo 2), it is obvious that Lady Day approves.
“Jazz critic Nat Hentoff recalled that during rehearsals Holiday and Young kept to opposite sides of the room. Young was very weak, and Hentoff told him to skip the big band section of the show and that he could sit while performing in the group with Holiday. During the performance of “Fine and Mellow”, Webster played the first solo. “Then”, Hentoff remembered:
“Lester got up, and he played the purest blues I have ever heard, and [he and Holiday] were looking at each other, their eyes were sort of interlocked, and she was sort of nodding and half–smiling. It was as if they were both remembering what had been—whatever that was. And in the control room we were all crying. When the show was over, they went their separate ways. Within two years, both Young and Holiday had died.”
References: (1) Wikipedia – Fine and Mellow (2) Wikipedia – The Sound of Jazz
All of these artists have their own stories, but all are brought together by this musical art form called Jazz. Sit back and enjoy this wonderful video of jazz greats performing together in one spirit. The spirit of jazz.
Ben Webster – tenor saxophone
Lester Young – tenor saxophone
Vic Dickenson – trombone
Gerry Mulligan – baritone saxophone
Coleman Hawkins – tenor saxophone
Roy Eldridge – trumpet
Doc Cheatham – trumpet
Danny Barker – guitar
Milt Hinton – double bass
Mal Waldron – piano
Osie Johnson – drums