Billie Holiday: Summertime
Billie Holiday (vocals)
The Quintessential Billie Holiday, Volume 2 (Columbia)
Joe Bushkin (piano), Dick McDonough (guitar), Pete Peterson (bass), Cozy Cole (drums).
Composed by George Gershwin & DuBose Heyward.
Recorded: New York, July 10, 1936
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
Billie Holiday was not the first jazz artist to record "Summertime" (Bob Crosby recorded a transcription version five months earlier) but hers was the first recorded for 78s and probably did more than any other version to establish the song as a potential jazz standard. For any listener of the time who had heard "Summertime" in its operatic version, Holiday's rendition was a shock—raw and dirty with the rasp of Bunny Berigan's trumpet echoed in Holiday's voice. Holiday jettisons nearly the entire melody, flattening out the melodic contour to fit her voice and her artistic sense, and behind her, Berigan and Artie Shaw jam away, sensing even then that this new Gershwin song with its easy harmonic sequence would be a natural for the jazz repertoire.
Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe
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