Billie and her buddies: Miss Holiday with Art Tatum, Oscar Pettiford and Big Sid Catlett, circa 1944. Judging by the flags, this might have been taken in England. The photographer was film maker Gjon Mili. From the Gems collection
The banks, the post office, the stock market, schools – they're all closed today. Did you forget? It's a national holiday. Eleanora Fagan's birthday. Better known to you and me as Billie Holiday.
But it's not just Billie's natal day. It's the 100th anniversary of her arrival, born on April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia (you probably thought she was born in Baltimore, just like I did, but no – she just grew up there). So I thought it appropriate that Gems do something to mark the occasion. I have some 60 Holiday records and a dozen or so CD sets, but nearly everything I have is available (and that's not bad!). So what can I offer you Gems fans that you don't already got in your collections? Hmmm ...
Well, for one thing, here's page 1 of the Down Beat that reported Billie's first big bust – the one that wound up sending her away for a year and lost her her cabaret card. It gives you a sense of what a tough cookie Miss Holiday was, and how magnanimous she was in her concern for her fellow musicians. They don't make them like that anymore!
In poking around on the web, I noticed the the first ESP Billie Holiday release – the one with that "deer-in-the-headlights" cover – is hard to come by because Bernard Stollman had to withdraw it. I guess the Billie Holiday Estate objected to the cover image (it's not hard to see why). The music on the album comes from Boris Rose's tapes, performances from 1949-52, and they are all excellent. So, you may have this recording, but you may not have the cover. To celebrate Lady Day's centennial, here's cover and contents, just as they were initially released back in 1972 or so.
I bought this back in my college days, so there is a bit of surface noise (in addition to stuff that was inherently part of any ESP pressing). But I think you'll enjoy the performances regardless of a few pops and clicks. By the way, this is a rare legitimate Boris Rose release, one with song titles, credits, timings, the works. ESP must have insisted that he play it straight for once.
As always, the files were ripped right from the precious vinyl. Enjoy, and happy 100th, Billie!
The Lady Lives
Boris Rose airchecks, 1949-52; ESP 3002A
Just Jazz Concert, Pasadena, CA; June 2, 1949
1. My Man
2. Miss Brown to You
Horace Henderson, p; Lips Page, tp; Eddie Condon(?), g.
Eddie Condon Show, New York, NY; August 27, 1949
3. Keeps on Rainin'
4. Lover Man
5. I Cover the Waterfront
Art Ford Show; August 27, 1949 (same date as above, may be incorrect)
6. All of Me
Apollo Theater, New York, NY; May 24, 1950
7. You're My Thrill
Storyville, Boston, MA; October 31, 1951
8. He's Funny That Way
9. Billie's Blues
10. Miss Brown to You
Apollo Theater, New York, NY; 1952
11. My Man
Apollo Theater, New York, NY; December 10, 1952
Find it here: https://www.mediafire.com/?uakfqp8wcihyjik