Billie Holiday: Mean to Me


Mean To Me


Billie Holiday (vocals)


Billie Holiday + Lester Young: A Musical Romance (Columbia/Legacy CK 86635)

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Billie Holiday (vocals), Lester Young (tenor sax), Buck Clayton (trumpet), Buster Bailey (clarinet), Johnny Hodges (alto sax), Teddy Wilson (piano), Cozy Cole (drums),

Allen Reuss (guitar), Artie Bernstein (bass)


Recorded: New York, May 11, 1937


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

“I guess I’m not the only one who heard their first good jazz in a whorehouse,” Billie Holiday recalled of a childhood running errands for a Baltimore madam. Billie later turned tricks herself, but didn’t take to the life. Music was her salvation. Here she demonstrates what distinguishes jazz singers from other vocalists. She takes liberties with the melody, but remains true to the song. And her rhythm! In an age of delivery as stilted as a filibuster by Senator Fogbottom, Billie’s is playfully conversational. Her stylistic sophistication is matchless. Madam, nobody ever heard jazz like this in a whorehouse.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

If you liked this track, also check out

Billie Holiday: Good Morning Heartache
Billie Holiday & Lester Young: All of Me
Madeleine Peyroux: Once In a While

Related Links

Billie Holiday: Rare and Live by Ted Gioia
The Dozens: Twelve Essential Billie Holiday Performances by Stuart Nicholson
”Billie Holiday” by Stuart Nicholson (from The Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians)

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