1952 sessions

(A) STUDIO SESSIONS


THE VERVE YEARS (1952-1959)

 The studio sessions with Norman Granz revive the jazz-combos similar to those she recorded in the good old times with Teddy Wilson. That means the end of those sticky string arrangements, brass excesses, extravagant choirs and similar mistakes frequent during the intermediary years. Lady Day would again shine in classic jazz standards, her vocal quality loss being more than compensated by the advances of recording technologies and the selection of bands formed by some of the best jazzmen of the American jazz scene.

The Verve years collection was issued by Polygram in 1992 in a Box with 10 CDs and an amazingly edited booklet with a detailed recording historiography and track comments (see discography). Although the material covers alternate takes, rehearsals, live recordings, etc, I will comment, according to the scope of this work, only the original studio tracks (the MT – master takes).

Norman Granz was born in Los Angeles, from a jewish-ucranian family. Since his youth an enthusiastic jazz fan, he produced the famous JATP – Jazz at the Philharmonic, the first of them in July, 1944 in LA. He produced those festival till the rock’n’roll era in 1957. He would also manager famous artists like Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald (with her, he produced the fantastic series of albums known as Songbooks). In 1946 he founded Clef – his first record company, and in 1953 a second one, Norgram; both combined formed Verve in 1956. He sold it to MGM in the late 50s and moved to Switzerland.


Session #67 Los Angeles, after 21/April/1952 Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra (The Complete BH on Verve, vol.1 tk 18-25)
Charlie Shavers (tp) Flip Phillips (ts) Oscar Peterson (p) Barney Kessel(g) Ray Brown (b) Alvin Stoller (d) Billie Holiday (v)

We don’t know the exact date of this Clef session (s). However, we know Norman Granz signed with Billie after his return from Europe in April 21st, 1952.

A set of jazz standards and stars in the band makes this session unforgettable. Is to regret that Charlie Shavers shows off a bit too much.

(MT 219) East Of The Sun **1/2 the open Shavers trumpet introduces the song and Billie undertakes, with obbligati by Philips, the classic 1934 composition by Brooks Bowman for the play Stags of Bay. Shavers returns for a solo in the bridge like a sunbeam (too shiny?). Billie resumes and keeps the swung tempo till Peterson follows her in the slow final cadence. A gem. (Did you notice the obbligati are back?)

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

(MT 220) Blue Moon * what to comment in this classic Rodgers & Hart? Maybe the bridge, with solos from Phillips and Shavers (who shows off as always…)

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

No (tp) & (ts)
(MT 221) You Go To My Head *** a classic from J. Fred Coots in slow tempo, giving Billie the opportunity to recite the lyrics: “You go to my head with a smile/ that makes my temperature rise”. A beauty. Notice that Billie started to bite the syllables, the trademark of her renderings from now on (like in ri-ise, in the selected verse). Compare it with the 1938 version (s.MT #83).

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

No (tp)
(MT 222) You Turned The Tables On Me ***1/2 another standard, this by Louis Alter. Billie opens with obbligati by Phillips, Master Peterson solos in the bridge and Billie comes back to close this marvel.

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

No (ts)
(MT 223) Easy To Love *** an eternal standard by Cole Porter in swung tempo. Shavers does the obbligati and also solos in the bridge, this time with muted instrument, what harmonizes better with the band; Barney Kessel closes the bridge and Billie returns for the coda in a fadeout final with Peterson. Bravo!

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

No (tp) & (ts)
(MT 224) These Foolish Things ***1/2 one more classic, this by Jack Strachey, one of my favorites (A cigarette/ that bears a lipstick’s traces…). The arrangement with no horns lets Billie recite the wonderful lyrics. Peterson follows in obbligati. Another gem.

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

Full band
(MT 225) I Only Have Eyes For You * an standard by Harry Warren, in well swung tempo. The Philips solo is outshined by Shaver’s overstatement in the sequence. It is known Billie loved this song.

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

No (ts)
(MT 226) Solitude ** in my opinion, this is the best rendering of this Ellington’s song. Fortunately, Shavers kept it mute and his obbligati do not break the mood.

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


Session #68 Los Angeles, after 21/April/1952 Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra (Complete BH on Verve, vol.2 tk 1-7)
Charlie Shavers (tp) Flip Phillips (ts) Oscar Peterson (p) Barney Kessel (g) Ray Brown (b) Alvin Stoller (d) Billie Holiday (v)

Same band and musicians from the preceding session, a couple of days later. One more sequence of classics and standards.

No (tp)
(MT 227) Everything I Have Is Yours *** a beautiful melody by Burton Lane. The obbligati and solo by Flip Phillips accompany Billie with perfection and Peterson finalizes with class. It is a bless we have 3m45s recording time.
Solo accompanist Oscar Peterson (p)
(MT 228) Love For Sale ** more than the preceding track, Peterson reigns absolute, in a solo accompaniment. Billie recites the lyrics with perfection. This song is a classic Cole Porter and this is the only time Billie recorded it.
No (ts)
(MT 229) Moonglow ** the classic ballad by W. Hudson & E. De Lange & Irving Mills is taken in a pleasant medium tempo. Shavers does well the obbligati, but exaggerates in the bridge solo, not matching Billie’s introspective rendering.

These three tracks have never been issued in 78 rpm. They were included instead in one of the first 331/3 rpm Long Playing, the Clef 10″ LP MG C 161. There were four tracks in each side, side A being : 1. Love For Sale; 2. Moonglow; 3. Everything I have is yours. The fourth is MT 231, already issued in 78 rpm.

The image below is from the original LP. Click here to listen.

     
Full band
(MT 230) Tenderly *** a pop classic and a jazz standard could describe this nice song by Walter Gross. It is curious that Phillips starts and ends with the same sequence! Billie, in a continuous take, is backed by the excellent obbligati by Shavers and Phillips, and has some difficulties with the low tones (…breathlessly…).

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

No (ts)
(MT 231) If The Moon Turns Green ** this minor song flows well, with Shavers in a contained obbligato.

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

Full band
(MT 232) Remember *1/2 a minor Berlin song, in fast tempo, with Shaver’s discreet obbligati. In the bridge, Barney Kessel assumes and Peterson is excellent; in the second chorus, Billie exercises her “small pauses”.

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

No (tp) e (ts)
(MT 233) Autumn In New York *** in a band with no brass, Oscar Peterson assumes the accompaniment in an harmonious ensemble. The song is a classic by Vernon Duke. Down Beat magazine conceded five stars in its critic to this record – that had Remember in the other side – both in the 78rpm Clef 89108. (see vinyl discography). A collector’s item (wish I had it!).
(MT 233a) Autumn In New York (alternate take)

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


Session #69 New York 27/July/1952 Billie Holiday & Her Lads of Joy (Complete BH on Verve, vol.2 tk 9-14)
Joe Newman (tp) Paul Quinichette (ts) Oscar Peterson (p) Freddie Green (g) Ray Brown (b) Gus Johnson (d) Billie Holiday (v)

With the exception of the classics I can’t face the music and Stormy Weather, all the tracks are remakes. Newman’s accompaniment is more discreet then Shaver’s. Actually, in the whole session there are no trumpet solos.

(MT 234) My Man *** this is the third recording of the song; the obbligati are by Quinichette and Newman (note the verse “…he beats me too…”)

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

(MT 235) Lover, Come Back To Me ** the song by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II is delicious, although the tempo here is a bit too fast. Listen the fabulous solo by Quinichette in the bridge. In the final chorus, the tempo is changed and Billie ends almost with no accompaniment.

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

No (ts)
(MT 236) Stormy Weather *** an standard by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Ted Koehler, one of my favorites. Notice the discreet Newman’s obbligati!

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

No (tp), Oscar Peterson (organ)
(MT 237) Yesterdays – frankly speaking, I would rather hear Peterson at the piano.

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

Full band
(MT 238) He’s Funny That Way *** this is also the third recording; that aren’t many songs that deserved this Billie honor. She begins with the solo accompaniment by Peterson, then Newman’s obbligati come in. There’s no bridge.

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

(MT 239) I Can’t Face The Music ** in an unusual way, Quinichette opens with a brief solo. This is a minor song by Rube Bloom & Ted Koehler.

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


(B) LIVE SESSIONS

Live Session #33A [radio broadcast] New York, 25/July/1952  unknown band, Billie Holiday (v) (CD: Perfect Complete Collection vol.5  & Broadcast Performances vol.1)

52-12-10_apollotheaterThe Amateur Hour at the Apollo Theatre, broadcast via WMCA.

 

Billie signs autographs outside the Apollo

(LR 92A) My Man

Original LP ESP 3002 Lady Day Lives (US 1972). Sound not available.



Live Session #33B [live recording] New York, 13/September/1952 Oscar Peterson Trio
Oscar Peterson (p) Ray Brown (g) Charlie Smith (d) Billie Holiday (v) (CD Masters of Jazz vol.23 tk 29)

Recorded at Carnegie Hall in the Jazz at the Philharmonic 1952

(LR 92B) Lover Man

Unissued in vinyl

This session has not been recorded. However, at least one of the songs was taped, probably by an amateur. The one presented here. Says Down Beat Magazine:  “Biggest letdown of the night was a surprise guest Granz had saved especially for the New York crowd, Billie Holiday. In her first appearance in NY after several years, Billie sang half heartedly, nervously”.


Live Session #34 [live recording] New York, 14/November/1952  Duke Ellington Orchestra (?) (CD: Perfect Complete Collection vol.5 & Broadcast Performances vol.2)
Jimmy Hamilton (cl) Laverne ‘Buster’ Harding (p) Ray Nance (violin) John Fields (b) Marquis Foster(d) Billie Holiday (v)

52-11-14_carnegiehall_parker@Recorded at Carnegie Hall in a Concert commemorating the 25th Anniversary of Duke Ellington in the music business.

Also in the program Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Ahmad Jamal and Stan Getz. A series of songs have been recorded.

Billie and Charlie Parker

First Concert (8:15pm)
(LR 93) My Man 
(LR 94) Fine And Mellow *
Second Concert (11:45pm)
(LR 95) I Cover The Waterfront *
(LR 96) Lover Come Back To Me *

Original LP ESP 3003 sides A & B (side B disc has a printed image instead of the conventional list of songs) Radio & TV Broadcasts (US 1972). Sound not available.

        

Note: on the first concert, it is known that Billie also sang Lover Man, Miss Brown to you, Easy Living, What a Moonlight Can Do, Tenderly & Strange Fruit; on the second, also: What a Moonlight Can Do, My Man & Fine and Mellow. Unfortunately, I have no clues where to find these recordings.


Live Session #35 [radio broadcast] New York, 10/December/1952  Johnny Hodges Band (CD: Perfect Complete Collection vol.5 & Broadcast Performances vol.1)
Tony Scott (cl) Buster Harding (p) Others unknown, Billie Holiday (v)
The Amateur Hour at the Apollo Theatre, broadcast via WMCA.
(LR 98) Tenderly *

Original LP ESP 3002 The Lady Lives (US 1972). Sound not available.

© www.billieholidaysongs.com February 2017

6 thoughts on “1952 sessions

  1. The April sessions are as good as anything she ever recorded, even though the way she snatches some words can be a little disconcerting, a problem that gets far worse later.

    • Fully agree. But “snatches” maybe is a better alternative for the “bites” I used… My poor english…
      Paulo

  2. Missing from this page are:

    August 16, 1952 – CJBC Radio Interview with Canadian DJ Dick MacDougall (look for it on Youtube).
    November 14, 1952 – Full set of songs:

    (SET ONE)
    Lover Man
    My Man
    Miss Brown to You
    Easy Living
    What a Little Moonlight Can Do
    Tenderly
    Strange Fruit
    Fine & Mellow

    (SET TWO)
    Announcement by Duke Ellington
    Lover Come Back to Me
    I Cover the Waterfront
    Fine & Mellow
    My Man
    What a Little Moonlight Can Do

    • The interview I was not aware of. I couldn’t even find it on Youtube. Actually, even if I knew, I wouldn’t mention it in the site, where I only mention recorded songs.
      As regard to the Carnegie Hall concert, I was aware of the complete list on songs, but as a role I don’t list songs that are said she sang, but only tracks that I know exist on records. In this case, I looked for them in vain. BUT, as you mentioned it, I added a note in the site telling I don’t have them. Maybe anyone can tell me where to find’em. Thanks.

  3. Also, MY MAN is from July 25, 1952 on the Apollo Radio Broadcast, not from December of 1952. They never had a singer do two songs on any broadcast, and in fact the whole audio from that December 10th show exists – no My Man to be heard. As it happens, the last time I connected with Ruth Brown, she and I talked about the largely forgotten original Showtime at the Apollo TV Show. She said a friend had a copy of Lady singing this song from that show, which ran from 1951 to about 1953, on and off. There are some extant videos of Ruth on the show, as well as Dinah Washington.The show was usually simulcast on radio during this period. Ruth died not long after I last saw her perform and I never did find out who may have had the video of the Dec 1952 show.

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