Billie Holiday & Lester Young: All of Me
All of Me
Lady Day & Pres 1937-41 (Frémeaux FA013)
Leslie Johnakins (alto sax), Ted Sturgis (bass).
Composed by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons.
Recorded: New York, March 21, 1941
Rating: 100/100 (learn more)
If hot jazz was defined by Louis Armstrong in the 1920s, then the lyrical side of jazz found its perfect exponents in Billie Holiday and Lester Young during the 1930s and 1940s. Their collaborations revealed a different side of the jazz art form. Here we can savor emotion without cheap sentimentality, simplicity without simple-mindedness, a force of expression that is achieved through restraint and understatement. In the long lineage of cool jazz, we constantly find the creative bursts coming at us through the work of couples -- Bix & Tram, Miles & Gil, Getz & Gilberto -- almost as if music this sensitive required some sort of magnetic, mutual attraction, an exemplary pairing to make it possible. Call it a musical romance, if you will. But at the top of the hierarchy, our First Lady (Day) and Pres of the democracy of cool jazz are Billie and Lester. "All of Me" ranks among the finest of their classic sides, and it is hard to say which of the two gets the upper hand here. Let's call it a tossup. A must have recording for anyone interested in the history of jazz vocals or the evolution of the tenor sax.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia
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