Billie Holiday: Fine and Mellow (Sound of Jazz, 1957)
Fine and Mellow
Billie Holiday (vocals)
The Ultimate Collection (Hip-O 3918)
Billie Holiday (vocals), Lester Young (tenor sax), Roy Eldridge (trumpet), Doc Cheatham (trumpet), Vic Dickenson (trombone), Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax), Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax), Mal Waldron (piano), Osie Johnson (drums), Milt Hinton (bass), Ben Webster (tenor sax), Danny Barker (guitar).
Recorded: CBS television broadcast, New York, December 8, 1957
Rating: 99/100 (learn more)
This is generally acknowledged as the greatest jazz moment ever broadcast on national television. And with good reason. Billie Holiday is joined by an all-star band and delivers a deeply felt version of "Fine and Mellow." This was a song that Holiday seemed to sing better with the passing years - not a claim one could make for most of her repertoire. But this is a world-weary composition, and no lady was more worldly or weary than Billie Holiday, circa 1957. Lester Young delivers a touching solo that even moves the vocalist. His TV studio reunion with Holiday may have inspired him, but I have a hunch that the proximity of Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster in the room (these being the real three tenors by the measure of any swing jazz fan) may have had something to do with it too. If TV were always this good, we could get rid of our iPods.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia
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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)
Tags: fine and mellow