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"Lady Day" Gets a New Groove with Billie Holiday Remixed & Reimagined


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Following the success of Nina Simone: Remixed & Reimagined, Legacy Recordings continues to expand the jazz paradigm with BILLIE HOLIDAY: REMIXED & REIMAGINED, the second installment of a new series that taps contemporary dance and electronic music's most sought-after producers/remixers to reinterpret classic recordings for a new generation.

For this edition, Legacy once again teams with Scott Schlachter (of New York-based dance/ electronic music imprints C&S, Adrenalin and Topaz Records), the producer who assembled the similarly-minded Nina Simone collection released last fall. Schlachter had full access to Holiday's esteemed Columbia Record (and associated labels Brunswick, Vocalion and OKeh) repertoire, spanning 1933 to 1944. This time out, his crop of DJs, producers, and artists includes such wide-ranging talents as TONY HUMPRHIES, NICKODEMUS, LADYBUG MECCA (from the platinum-selling and Grammy Award-winning DIGABLE PLANETS), DJ LOGIC, MADISON PARK, DJ SWINGSETT, CHARLES FEELGOOD, POPPYSEED, and more.

The resulting 14-track anthology - the first official remix package to feature selections from Holiday's landmark Columbia Records catalog - is a beguiling manifesto of love, beauty, rhythm and poetry that demonstrates a reverence for the timeless originals and a fearlessness to turn them upside down and inside out.

For the uninitiated, the name “Billie Holiday" is synonymous with depth, sophistication and the golden age of 20th Century jazz, blues and swing. Born Eleanora Harris on April 7, 1915, she would later ascend to the summit of the idiom as its quintessential auteur. The richness of Holiday's musical compositions were rivaled only by her, at turns, bewitchingly frail vocal style and spellbinding throaty croon. Her music remains alive with a wealth of colorful emotions and moods (ranging from innocent, romantic, confident and blissfully existential to melancholic, disillusioned and bittersweet), and her voice still haunts with its dexterity and brutal sincerity.

In his liner notes to The Essential Billie Holiday Carnegie Hall Concert, released by Verve in 1956, writer Nat Hentoff said Billie possessed a voice that was “almost unbearably wise in disillusion and yet still childlike, at the center." She had an uncanny ability to convey bitter truth and magical beauty from a life fraught with racism, addiction, internal demons, depression and loss. Her songs are autobiographical passages offering harrowing, yet redemptive, self-portraits.

BILLIE HOLIDAY: REMIXED & REIMAGINED reawakens and reaffirms our fascination with jazz's most beloved heroine. From the opening chords of Swingsett & Takuya's mid- tempo re-invention of Holiday's ecstatic juke joint romp “I Hear Music," you become seduced by the manner in which the vocals interplay with the melodious grooves and plaintive trumpet solos. Roland Richards and Ladybug Mecca kick up the mood with their energized reinterpretation of “Spreadin' Rhythm Around," which recasts the original as a surging “hip-hop meets swing" anthem which just might usher in the next wave of the Rebirth of Cool. “Trav'lin' All Alone" becomes a sinister urban affair at the hands of veteran hip hop/funk/modern soul mixmasters Nickodemus and Zeb, who inject the vintage swing tune with shuffling percussion and bottom-heavy dub undercurrents. Atlanta-based duo/couple Madison Park (aka James and DeAnna Cool) delivers a cocktail- jazz remix of the inviting “You're So Desireable" aimed at sophisticated post-clubbers and the cosmopolitan jetset. GXR reconstructs the misty ballad “Long Gone Blues" into a soundscape accentuated by electronic textures, dreamy layered vocals and soul-stirring Rhodes and sax solos.

Legendary House music pioneer Tony Humphries radically re-envisions “But Beautiful" as a floor-filler laced with pumping deep House grooves and uplifting gospel keys. Master DJ/ turntablist and sonic manipulator DJ Logic cunningly modernizes “Glad To Be Unhappy" into a cinematic mosaic that weaves the majestic opening and closing orchestration from the original with a chunky terrain of slow-burning soul, funk, ambient and jazz nuances. While New York post-rock pop outfit Poppyseed turns the timeless standard “Summertime" into a twilight elegy melding introspective downbeats, taut melancholic keys, and soaring electronic guitar.

BILLIE HOLIDAY: REMIXED & REIMAGINED is a lovingly assembled homage to the First Lady of Jazz's legacy. More than just a simple remix package, the 14-track set underscores the importance of the original recordings while retooling them for an audience more inclined to a modern club environment.

'Billie Holiday: Remixed and Re-Imagined' CD arrives in stores August 7, 2007, on Columbia/Legacy

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