Billie Holiday: Time On My Hands

Although he was amongst the most celebrated jazz soloists of the era, Lester Young takes no solo on “Time on My Hands.” Instead, the song reveals him to be a remarkable accompanist. The song begins as a call-and-response duet between Holiday and trumpeter Eldridge, who gives an intro and then adds embellishments at the end of each of the singer’s lines. On the bridge, however, Eldridge falls away and Young enters: not with responses, but in countermelody. The weighty sadness with which Holiday already croons suddenly takes on new depth, with Young’s saxophone gently sobbing behind her. He’s also well off-mike, so that he amplifies Lady Day’s grief and sorrow without ever competing for the spotlight. Considering the stars he is competing against for space on the record—Eldridge and Teddy Wilson, both of whom turn in sterling solos—it’s quite a selfless act. Whether he did it for the record or for Billie, we can’t say…but it’s irrelevant, since his backgrounds make both of them better.

August 16, 2009 · 0 comments


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