Billie Holiday: Fine And Mellow


Fine and Mellow


Billie Holiday (vocals)


The Ultimate Collection (Hip-O 3918)

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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: 100/100 (learn more)

“I summed up all existence in an epigram,” Oscar Wilde once bragged; Lester Young doesn’t quite capture all existence in his single 36-second blues chorus, but he certainly sums up his entire musical life in those few flawless phrases. Even today, 50 years after his death, Young’s economy is still startling: listening to the busy, swooping Ben Webster solo that precedes him leaves one quite unprepared for what Prez will do.

There is little to add to the legend of Young and Holiday’s last performance together: how they staked out positions on opposite sides of the room during rehearsal, then locked eyes during Young’s broadcast solo as the producers looked on and wept; how they were both ravaged from hard living and would be dead within less than two years. Their art was intact, and for those few minutes on national television, the two old friends and partners once again put light into each other’s lives.

Reviewer: Michael J. West

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Billie Holiday: Strange Fruit
Billie Holiday: Mean to Me
Billie Holiday: Me, Myself and I

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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