Billie Holiday With Lester Young, Lady Day & Prez 1937-1941

Kevin Whitehead

By Kevin Whitehead

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Billie Holiday didn't have a wide range or thunderous voice, but she turned limitations into virtues. She subtly smoothed out the melodies she sang, and developed a carefree, intimate vocal style early in her career — her phrasing stamped Frank Sinatra, and a whole lot of sultry chanteuses like Cassandra Wilson and Madeleine Peyroux. Back when the cream of swing-era soloists backed Holiday, her greatest ally was tenor saxophonist Lester Young, who had a similarly light tone, floating sense of time, and streamlined sensibility. They answer each other like a bluesman and his guitar. Hear one of jazz's greatest partnerships.