Tragic Beauty

Now, I do not know much about jazz or the blues —- but I hope to change that. I am educating myself and hope to know a lot more in the near future. However, I am listening to what has to be the most tragically beautiful recording I have ever heard. Billie Holiday and Ray Ellis Orchestra —- the album is entitled “Lady in Satin” At once there is an almost subversive interpretation and phrasing. Almost like being scratched by a rusty nail with a soft breeze of sweet perfume running through your hair. OK, I guess that doesn’t sound so very nice, but this lady could sing! …And, I have to say that there is a certain punk philosophy which could be applied here. I really want my brother to hear this album. I guess I will need to get it for him.

I guess this is one of her last recordings. You can hear the sorrow, pain and love in every note she sings. Ray Ellis’work is flawless orchestration which you would think would work against her honest vocals, but it only enhances the power. Quite simply, this is a beautiful recording that sort of makes you want to float with the sounds both soothing and painful.

Everything I currently know about “The Lady Day” I learned from Berry Gordy’s 1970’s film, LADY SINGS THE BLUES. Diana Ross gave a great acting performance, but I am now rather annoyed that Gordy allowed anyone to sing her songs! If you do not have this album, you really need to get it. Heart breaking and inspiring all at once. Now, I have heard the wonderful Jimmy James impersonate Holiday’s vocals on many occasions and he does a great job, but I never realized how powerful it would be to actually hear her.

Her performance of one song, “For All We Know”, in particular really grabs me. I have heard a thousand interpretations of this song. Up until now, Barbra’s was my favorite — but Holiday’s phrasing wipes Babs off the map. Stunning.

June 1, 2004. Uncategorized.

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