1938 sessions

(A) STUDIO SESSIONS

Session #24 New York, 6/January/1938, Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra (CD: Complete in Columbia vol.4, tk5-8)
Buck Clayton (tp) Benny Morton (tb) Lester Young (ts) Teddy Wilson (p) Freddie Green (g)Walter Page (b) Jo Jones (d) Billie Holiday (v)

In this session, Benny Morton’s trombone is back; he would record 20 tracks with Lady in the Columbia years.

(MT 75) My First Impression Of You ** Morton does a short opening and Billie assumes with Buck’s obbligati. It works pretty well, in spite of the less known composers.

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

(MT 76) When You’re Smiling ** Morton, again, introduces the theme. In a brisk tempo, reminds a jam session. Listen how, after Lady’s chorus, Teddy shines in the solo and Lester follows with lots of swing; they both come together with Buck in a grand finale. Excellent.

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

(MT 77) I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me * after a long intro, Billie carries well this nice song by Jimmy McHugh & Clarence Gaskill.

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

(MT 78) If Dreams Come True

Session #25 New York, 12/January/1938, Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra (CD: Complete in Columbia vol.4, tk9-12)
Buck Clayton (tp) Benny Morton (tb) Lester Young (ts) Teddy Wilson (p) Freddie Green (g)Walter Page (b) Jo Jones (d) Billie Holiday (v)

Same people from previous session, but under Vocalion now.

(MT 79) Now They Call It Swing – I don’t really appreciate “scat” singing. But fortunately, this is not the case, all the “dru-du-du-da-da” are indeed in the original lyrics…
(MT 80) On The Sentimental Side * I mentioned Freddie Green above, now listen his sound in the background. He deserved this star. On the other hand, very poor recording quality.

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

(MT 81) Back In Your Own Backyard
(MT 82) When A Woman Loves A Man * Lester does a short intro and Billie assumes, backed by Teddy Wilson’s piano. A nice song by Gordon Jenkins & Bernard Hanighen (the latter also the producer of the session).

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


Session #26 New York, 11/May/1938, Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra (CD: Complete in Columbia vol.4, tk13-16)
Bernard Anderson (tp) Buster Bailey (cl) Babe Russin (ts) Claude Thornhill (p) John Kirby (b) Cozy Cole (d) Billie Holiday (v)

A great number of new faces with Billie in this session. Anderson recorded eight tracks with Billie, (some say that’s actually Charlie Shavers on the trumpet) and Thornhill twelve, all in 1938. There’s also no consensus on Babe Russin, some mention Ben Webster.

(MT 83) You Go To My Head * a classic by J. Fred Coots. I like Billie spelling: “…to my heeaaaad”. A second version of this song, even better, was recorded in 1952 (s.MT #221).

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

(MT 84) The Moon Looks Down And Laughs *

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

(MT 85) If I Were You *

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

(MT 86) Forget If You Can * these three latter songs are unknown, though pleasant.

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


Session #27 New York, 23/June/1938, Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra (CD: Complete in Columbia vol.4, tk17-20)
Bernard Anderson (tp) Buster Bailey (cl) Babe Russin (ts) Claude Thornhill (p) Allan Reuss (g) John Kirby (b) Cozy Cole (d) Billie Holiday (v)

See above the comments on the band.

(MT 87) Having Myself A Time *

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

(MT 88) Says My Heart * a pleasant song by Frank Loesser & Burton Lane. In the bridge there’s a solo by Anderson also attributed to Charlie Shavers (maybe the mute playing turns it more difficult to decide – I can’t).

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

(MT 89) I Wish I Had You * this song is composed by the band’s pianist,
Thornhill; listen in the bridge Cozy Cole beat behind Thornhill and Anderson.

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

(MT 90) I’m Gonna Lock My Heart very pleasant…

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


Session #28 New York 24/July/1938, Artie Shaw and his Orchestra (CD: Artie Shaw Greatest Hits, tk7)
Chuck Peterson, John Best-Claude Bowen(tp) George Arus, Ted Vesely, Harry Rogers(tb) Artie Shaw(cl) Les Robinson, Hank Freeman(as)Tony Pastor, Ron Perry(ts) Lester Burness(p) Al Lavola(g) Sid Weiss(b) Cliff Leeman(d) Billie Holiday(v)

Billie joined Artie Shaw band since March 9th, when she left Count Basie. This would be her sole session recorded with Shaw (and with RCA). This recording session had five other tracks, including Shaw’s success Begin The Beguine. There’s a story that, because of racial restrictions, Shaw remade the track with Helen Forrest, but instead could also be that Brunswick contested the breach of contract. The 78rpm disk has the number B-7759-A by Bluebird.

(MT 91) Any Old Time ** that’s a pure big-band with Billie as crooner, excellent sound quality. This ended to be her sole recording of this song. The track can be found in the CD Artie Shaw – Greatest Hits. See discography.

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

38-07-09 - BH & AS

Billie & Artie Shaw at Million Dollar Pier, Atlantic City 9th July 1983 © Ken Vail 1996

Session #29 New York, 15/September/1938, Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra (CD: Complete in Columbia vol.4, tk21-24)
Buck Clayton (tp) Dickie Wells (tb) Lester Young (cl)(ts) Margaret ‘Queenie’ Johnson (p) Freddie Green (g) Walter Page (b) Jo Jones (d) Billie Holiday (v)

A session that counts with Buck and Lester together deserves respect. I consider this to be the best Vocalion session. Billie wouldn’t record afterwards none of these songs in studio.

(MT 92) The Very Thought Of You *1/2 a very popular song by the British composer Ray Noble. Listen the wonderful collaboration of Buck and Lester – playing clarinet, a rarity –  in the bridge.

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

(MT 93) I Can’t Get Started ** one of my favorite tunes, composed by Vernon Duke and Ira Gershwin. In the bridge, there’s a wonderful Lester solo.

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

(MT 94) I’ve Got A Date With A Dream *1/2  this track is the only participation of Dickie Wells, famous trombonist, that performs a wonderful solo at the bridge together with Lester.

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

(MT 95) You Can’t Be Mine

 CD The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia Volume 4 (cont)


Session #30 New York, 31/October/1938, Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra (CD: Complete in Columbia vol.5, tk1-2)
Harry James (tp) Benny Morton (tb) Edgar Sampson Benny Carter (as) Lester Young Herschel Evans (ts) Teddy Wilson (p) Al Casey (g) Walter Page (b) Jo Jones (d) Billie Holiday (v)

Brunswick session where Teddy Wilson is back in charge but, in my opinion, the arrangements are too heavy, with too many horns (six), bringing that big-band climate where Billie looses the intimacy. The song selection also doesn’t help that much.

(MT 96) Everybody’s Laughing
(MT 97) Here It Is Tomorrow Again

Session #31 New York, 09/November/1938, Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra (CD: Complete in Columbia vol.5, tk3-6)

Same band and same remarks from previous session.

(MT 98) Say It With A Kiss
(MT 99) April In My Heart
(MT 100) I’ll Never Fail You
(MT 101) They Say

 


Session #32 New York, 28/November/1938, Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra (CD: Complete in Columbia vol.5, tk7-10)
Bobby Hackett (cornet) Trummy Young (tb) Toots Mondello, Ted Buckner (as) Bud Freeman, Chu Berry (ts) Teddy Wilson (p) Al Casey (g) Milt Hinton string (b) Cozy Cole (d) Billie Holiday (v)

Unfortunately the arrangements are still as heavy as in the previous sessions, although this is a completely different band The music selection being also disappointing. One of the worst Lady’s sessions for Brunswick.

(MT 102) You’re So Desirable
(MT 103) You’re Gonna See A Lot Of Me
(MT 104) Hello, My Darling
(MT 105) Let’s Dream In The Moonlight ** 

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

This session closes 1938, when Billie recorded 30 studio tracks, the second most prolific in her career, after 1937 with 38 tracks. These two years are considered her apogee in the Columbia years, in the plenitude of her voice.

38 cafe societyBy December this year, the son of a Latvian immigrant, the jazz lover Barney Josephson, decided to open a nightclub where all nationalities and races could come together in peace. So was born the famous Café Society, carrying as motto “the wrong place for the right people”. Billie was present at the opening session together with the Frankie Newton Band, whose pianist was Sonny White, then 21, who turned to be her great partner.

From this date on, Lady would more and more record with the Café’s musicians, putting in hold her previous collaboration with Teddy Wilson (see session #34) who, in turn, was considering to form his own band. Probably this is the reason why he was experimenting new arrangements in his last sessions with Billie.


B) LIVE SESSIONS

There were no live sessions in 1938

© www.billieholidaysongs.com February 2017

9 thoughts on “1938 sessions

  1. Let’s Dream in the Moonlight is in my Billie Top 10. I think it’s under-rated. She floats over the melody and creates musical effect of the ‘dream’ that is both yearning and melancholy. Her phrasing is at the absolute peak of its powers. Also a gorgeous trombone solo by Trummy Young.

  2. On the 2001 Complete on Columbia 10-CD set, “I’VE GOT A DATE WITH A DREAM” appears to be duplicated twice. On disc 4 track 23, and on disc 8 track 22. They do sound different in that they have been processed differently, or mastered from different sources, but they are definitely the same take. Vocalion 4396 for the one on disc 4, and Columbia JG 34837 for the one on disc 8. Am I missing something?

    • There only two known versions of this song. The two were recorded in the same session, same band, being the first chosen as MT and the second the AT. They are very similar, but not the same take. Not sure I addressed you question.

      • Yes indeed there are two different takes for this song recorded at the same session. However the ones on the 2001 set are the same takes. I aligned the two tracks in a audio editor and they align perfectly. Same intro and solo. The two correct takes are found on another 3-CD set I have : “Complete Billie Holiday Lester Young” from 2003. It seems to be an error on Sony’s part, which is a shame. I can send you samples if you’d like to confirm.

        • I took a closer look, and notice the Sony’s mistake.
          MT has matrix # 23469-2 issued in Vocalion 4396
          AT has matrix # 23469-1 issued in Columbia JG34837
          That said, if you look in album leaflet “Complete in Columbia” vol.8 track 22, you may see that they REPEAT the matrix number 23469-2 and actually reproduce THAT track. It is a mistake, not a lie… – nevertheless a shame. Notice yet that the matrix number DO NOT show the mx initials before the number, once again pointing to a last minute correction.
          Same do not happen with the sister song I can’t get started, that is correctly identified.
          You don’t neeed to send me the tracks, I consulted my “Complete 1936-1944 studio recordings – Alternate Takes” Blue Moon Records BMCD 1502 (four volumes) that plays the correct version.
          Thank you very much for the correction, I will check the site and make the eventual corrections.
          Be in touch. Paulo

  3. Thanks to you! I was mainly looking for confirmation from an expert. I’m fairly new to BH and I’m interested in every possible technical details about the recording sessions just as much as I like the songs. There were probably lots of mistakes like that over the years. If I find anything else I’ll let you know. Thanks for your amazing site and keep up the good work!

    • Being “fairly new” to BH and coming up with such a detailed comment, I am more than curious to know what’s coming next 🙂
      Stay in touch!

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