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Jazz Articles

WHAT IS JAZZ?

Jazz: The Sacred and the Profane

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“As above, so below" --Hermes Trismegistus A warning: this article is worth reading only if you believe, as I do, that jazz is not just a form of entertainment, but an art form that has deep significance for our lives and contributes to our search for meaning. I fully appreciate the value of “digging the music" and leaning into it for its rhythmic syncopation and feelings of fun and excitement. But for many of us, jazz is part ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Vocal Jazz: 1917-1950

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There have been as many variations on the definition of vocal jazz as there have been people with opinions. Over the years, the consensus within the jazz community has shifted frequently as critics and fans have wrestled with the often-competing imperatives of improvisation and interpretation. For some people, vocal jazz should be exactly that -voices improvising solos in the manner of jazz instrumentalists. For others, that view disregards a singer's unique relationship to lyrics. At the turn of ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Billie Holiday: Four Classic Albums Plus

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Billie HolidayFour Classic AlbumsAvid Records2011 Back in the 1950s, when the American people were buying television sets and driving gas guzzlers on brand new superhighways under the threat of nuclear war, singer Billie Holiday was still turning out fine performances on record and on stage, defying a lot of expectations raised by her wayward lifestyle. Holiday only had a few years left--she died in 1959--but continued performing right up to the ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Billie Holiday: The Complete Commodore & Decca Masters

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Billie HolidayThe Complete Commodore & Decca MastersVerve Music Group2010 In 1959, Nina Simone made a black-pride point about her hit single, “I Loves You Porgy," very publicly proclaiming that she refused to use the (to her) demeaning dialect pronunciation “loves," substituting “love." It was the same year that Billie Holiday died, but few remembered that Holiday had, without fanfare, simply sang “love" instead of “loves" in her exquisite 1948 recording of ...

DVD/FILM REVIEWS

Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday

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Billie Holiday Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday Naxos 2009

Billie Holiday has long been acknowledged as one of the greatest jazz vocalists of all time. With her extensive catalogue of recordings for several labels, Holiday's music has been readily accessible though relatively little live footage with audio is available. Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday integrates film and video performances, recordings, words from her controversial autobiography ...

PROFILES

Billie Holiday Fifty Years Later: A Tribute and Reassessment

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Fifty years ago, on July 17, 1959, Billie Holiday died an untimely death at age 44 in a New York hospital from complications of drug and alcohol dependency. Now, half a century after her passing, it is an appropriate hommage to reflect once again on her legacy as a singer, an African American woman, a victim-- of a traumatic childhood, spousal abuse, and substance dependence--and a powerful creative force for the times she lived in. Though less of a “pop ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Becoming Billie Holiday

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Becoming Billie Holiday Carole Boston Weatherford Hardcover; 120 pages ISBN: 159078507X Wordsong Press 2008

Award-winning poet and professor Carole Boston Weatherford's latest, excellent book, Becoming Billie Holiday--a fictional verse memoir, as Weatherford describes it--reaches out and grabs the reader's attention as if Holiday herself was on stage and her entire life was unfolding before your very eyes. Weatherford's wonderful poems, which have titles from Holiday's songbook, are so ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Billie Holiday: Lady Day: The Master Takes and Singles & Rare Live Recordings 1934-1959

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Billie Holiday Lady Day--The Master Takes and Singles Columbia-Legacy 2007 Billie Holiday Rare Live Recordings 1934-1959 ESP-Disk 2007

The earliest 11 sides on Lady Day, a quartet box of discs taken from the Grammy Award-winning 10-CD box of 2001, are among the many cuts with pianist Teddy Wilson's orchestra. Only 20 ...


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