Benny Goodman (featuring Billie Holiday): Riffin' the Scotch


Riffin' the Scotch


Benny Goodman and His Orchestra (featuring Billie Holiday)


Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia 1933-1944 (Columbia/Legacy CXX 85470)

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Benny Goodman (clarinet), Billie Holiday (vocals), Charlie Teagarden (trumpet), Shirley Clay (trumpet), Jack Teagarden (trombone), Art Karle (tenor sax), Dick McDonough (guitar), Artie Bernstein (bass), Gene Krupa (drums),

Buck Washington (piano)


Arranged by Dean Kincade


Recorded: New York, December 27, 1933


Rating: 83/100 (learn more)

This is Holiday's recording debut at the age of 18. Record producer John Hammond had taken Benny Goodman, Red Norvo and Mildred Bailey to see her in live performance and they quickly concurred she was the real deal. Here, with lyrics courtesy of Johnny Mercer at Holiday's behest, she was defining her approach to singing through the character part of a woman unlucky in love. The lyrics could have been about riffs, they could have been about Scotch whisky, but were none of those things. They were about jumping from one bad relationship with a man into another. As a 13-year-old feeling her way into jazz in 1928 when she first heard "West End Blues," she was hardly in a position to define her approach to jazz singing. With most of 1929 lost through her run-in with the law, she put together an original approach to jazz singing in just three years, from 1930 to 1933, when this recording was made. By any standards it was a remarkable achievement.

Reviewer: Stuart Nicholson

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Related Links

Billie Holiday: Rare and Live by Ted Gioia
The Dozens: Twelve Essential Billie Holiday Performances by Stuart Nicholson

´┐ŻBillie Holiday´┐Ż by Stuart Nicholson (from The Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians)


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