1935 sessions


Session #3 New York 02/July/1935, Teddy Wilson & his Orchestra (CD: Complete in Columbia vol.1, tk3-6)
Roy Eldridge (tp) Benny Goodman (cl) Ben Webster (ts) Teddy Wilson (p) John Truehart(g) John Kirby (b) Cozy Cole (d) Billie Holiday (v)

This is an historic session: the first Billie collaboration with Teddy Wilson. They recorded 94 tracks together!

(MT 3) I Wished On The Moon * this is a good song from the well-known composers Ralph Rainger & Dorothy Parker. It was not easy in those days for a black singer to get nice songs to record, because of the music publishers’ power. Nevertheless Hammond found this one for Billie, worth a star. Teddy Wilson makes a short introduction and shares the opening with Benny Goodman. In the bridge, Eldridge and Goodman duel with Webster. She would record it two more times (see MT #256, & MT #293).

The image below is from the original 78rpm disk. Click here to listen.

(MT 4) What A Little Moonlight Can Do – I don’t appreciate this song that Billie recorded also in 1954 (see MT #245) with similar results. (The lyrics? Ooh, ooh, ooh oohhh, what a little moonlight can do… hmmm).
  • Maybe because the fast tempo, Billie included this tune frequently in her shows; there are other seven live registers.
(MT 5) Miss Brown To You * a nice song by Rainger, Whiting & Leo Robin. Billie along her career has always honored the musicians whom she played with; they always had space for memorable solos. In this case, listen to Wilson at the bridge while Billie gives him incentive: “Yeah, yeah!”; Eldridge shines in the sequence. One of my attentive readers, Jon Harrison, reported a car horn that can be heard in the background at 0:32 that he considers part of the track as it “puts you in the time and place”.
The image below is from the original 78rpm disk. Click hear to listen.

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(MT 6) A Sunbonnet Blue – it is said that Goodman didn’t take part in this track because he was “late from a dinner”. He didn’t miss much…

z_teddy_wilson@Ted Wilson had already played with Goodman and also recorded piano solos for Columbia in 1934. The series of recordings for Brunswick/Columbia would only be interrupted in 1942 because of the “recording ban” ordered by the American Federation of Musicians. Teddy Wilson also played with Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne and other famous contemporaneous singers.


Session #4 New York, 31/July/1935, Teddy Wilson & his Orchestra (CD: Complete in Columbia vol.1, tk7-9)
Roy Eldridge (tp) Cecil Scott (cl) Hinton Jefferson (as) Ben Webster (ts) Teddy Wilson (p) Lawrence Lucie (g) John Kirby (b) Cozy Cole (d) Billie Holiday (v)

(No matter how much the band changed from previous session, the songs remain second class…)

(MT 7) What a Night, What a Moon, What a Girl
(MT 8) I’m Painting the Town Red * Billie manages to turn this mediocre song into something we can hear.
The image below is from the original 78rpm disk. Click here to listen.

(MT 9) It’s Too Hot for Words – Listen to the sound Ben Webster gets out of his sax.
z_ben_webster2Ben Webster (1909-1973) was born in Kansas City and is considered one of the big-three tenor saxophonists, with Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young, being all three in this discography. He was one of the closest Billie’s friends, having recorded 45 tracks in studio with her during all of her career.


Session #5 New York, 25/October/1935, Teddy Wilson & his Orchestra (CD: Complete in Columbia vol.1, tk10-13)
Roy Eldridge (tp) Benny Morton (tb) Chu Berry (ts) Teddy Wilson (p) Dave Barbour (g) John Kirby (b) Cozy Cole (d) Billie Holiday (v)

Wilson assembled an all-stars band. John Kirby will record 41 tracks with Billie from 1935 to 1938.

(MT 10) Twenty-four Hours A Day
(MT 11) Yankee Doodle Never Went To Town
(MT 12) Eeny Meeny Miney Mo
(MT 13) If You Were Mine ** the best song in the session, by Matty Malneck / Johnny Mercer . Teddy opens backed by the rhythm session and Chu Berry prepares the Billie introduction. Eldridge closes in great style.
The image below is from the original 78rpm disk. Click here to listen.

Session #6 New York, 03/December/1935, Teddy Wilson & his Orchestra (CD: Complete in Columbia vol.1, tk14-16)
Richard ‘Dick’ Clarke (tp) Tom Macey (cl) Johnny Hodges (as) Teddy Wilson (p) Dave Barbour (g) Grachan Moncur (b) Cozy Cole (d) Billie Holiday (v)
(MT 14) These ‘N’ That ‘N’ Those *1/2  this is not a famous song, but Billie transforms it with a wonderful performance. This time, Johnny Hodges opens the track, Dick Clarke follows and Macey introduces Billie’s chorus. The swing goes on and Teddy opens the final suite.
The image below is from the original 78rpm disk. Click here to listen.

(MT 15) You Let Me Down * a curiosity: unlike all preceding tracks where the band opens in several bars, sometimes more than a minute long, in this one, Billie starts singing upon a short Hodges intro. He will come back at the bridge, followed by Wilson that also opens the final chorus.
The image below is from the original 78rpm disk. Click here to listen.

(MT 16) Spreadin’ Rhythm Around – no comments



Live session #1 [film] New York 12/March/1935 Duke Ellington & his Orchestra (CD: Perfect Complete Collection vol.1 or Complete  on Columbia (vol.7); video in the DVD The Ultimate Collection (see discography).
Arthur Whetsol, Freddie Jenkins, Cootie Williams(tp) Joe Nanton, Lawrence Brown, Juan Tizol(tb) Marshall Royal(cl & as) Barney Bigard(cl & ts) Johnny Hodges(as) Harry Carney(bs) Duke Ellington(p) Fred Guy(g) Wellman Braud(b) Sonny Greer(d) Billie Holiday (v)

(LR 1) Saddest Tale, aka Big City Blues

35-03-12_symphony_ Acting in the film “Symphony in Black”, shoot at Paramount Studios in Astoria, Queens. This was the first of 3 films Billie made in her career; the second being “New Orleans” in 1946 (see ahead). Billie never recorded this tune in studio – a rare opportunity to watch her on stage.

Youtube Logo Billie Holiday, Symphony in Black

© 2005-2017 www.billieholidaysongs.com February 2017

11 thoughts on “1935 sessions

  1. Miss Brown To You has a car horn at 0:32 that I always regard as part of the track because it puts you in the time and place. One of my favorite ever “mistakes” on a record.

    • Dear Jon
      Great! Yes, you’re right, a car horn can be heard in the background. I added your remark to the site text. I will go through your comments in the next days. Thanks for getting in touch.


      • Dear Mary Jane
        Thank you for your email. I appreciate your visiting my site and enjoying it. Please tell me the title of the LP set that you mentioned. I will try to get more info about it.
        Stay in touch.

  2. I am looking for the recording dates & personnel of the superb small groups with Billie & Teddy on DEJAVU RETRO R2CD 42-68 towards the end of the first disk…

    • It is a bit too vague to mention “towards the end…”. I actually did not quite understood your question, as you are already browsing the “sessions” menu in the site that describes ALL the songs recorded by Billie and Teddy Wilson, year by year, including dates, location and musicians. You probably have the song titles in the CD. What exactly you couldn’t find?

  3. What a delightful site you have here!!! Thank you!

    I arrived after a search for ‘who plays on “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” teddy wilson orchestra’ because the Wikipedia site has almost nothing to say about it.

    I note you “I don’t appreciate this song …” and perhaps I can share its appeal to me. The song and this performance are strongly rooted in 20s pop and jazz and within Billie Holiday’s ouvre, it’s an outlier; pungent with Charleston and Black Bottom. But if you listen from the perspective of the times, that’s where all of them came from. And they swing *so* hard, all of them. The playing is brilliant and they are having a blast!! And they are completely blowing the cobwebs off the old style while they shout: we’re here!

    And it makes me dance.

    • Thanks, Douglas, for your inspiring comment, I’ll copy it in the “lyrics” section. Actually I expressed on the site my little appreciation for the song. Maybe, as you say, because it’s a song out of Billie’s usual repertoire. On the other hand, I am an amateur music lover and so, I do not have your deep knowledge as a professional. By the way, I visited your website and shared with an amateur friend that when he retired, he has dedicated himself to composing music. When I see you composing and singing accompanied only by your piano, he asks me if you did not use some accompaniment or composition software like him. Stay in touch. Paulo

      • Hi Paulo,
        Thanks for the response. Tell your friend that I have, in the past, used recording software (Logic) to record a couple of CDs. One is available on iTunes (Doug Gifford “Gananoque”). These days, though, I’m content to record a single performance and be done with it.

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