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Thursday, 12 April 2018
Lady Sings The Blues @ Lincoln Drill Hall 20 April 2018
Live at Lincoln Drill Hall
Friday 20 April 7.30pm
the music of Billie Holiday
A presentation of Lady
Sings The Blues is a very special occasion. Some things are obvious, the six
piece band features the finest of British Jazz Musicians, every one of them on
top of their game, the arrangements are the best; from the former Humphrey
Lyttelton Band arranger Pete Strange; the repertoire is direct from the Billie
Holiday bands of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s – offering a rare opportunity to
hear these songs played and sung in the way they were in those clubs and cafes
of jazz age Harlem, New York. And of course, there’s the singer the remarkable
Val Wiseman who is without doubt the finest interpreter of Billie Holiday songs.
Just read the reviews.
But dig a little deeper
and you begin to realise that this is rather more than just the finest of jazz
musicians performing the neglected repertoire of, undoubtedly, the greatest,
most influential of all the jazz singers.
Read the words of Benny
Green, one of the finest of all jazz critics, broadcaster and musician, whose
opinions have to be taken seriously. “What is happening here” he
wrote regarding a live performance of Lady Sings The Blues “might even be a shade better than what
was being played all those years ago”. Maybe pause to give
consideration to Benny’s words, he is actually comparing, favourably, the
performance of these British musicians, with that of Billie Holiday with her
legendary musicians, Buck Clayton, Lester Young, Teddy Wilson, Freddie Green and
all. But Benny was not on his own in this matter.
Ruby Braff was famous for his irascibility, his lack of patience with what he
perceived as the shortcomings of fellow musicians and for being blunt to the
point of rudeness as well as being celebrated as one of the finest jazz trumpet
players of his generation. On BBC Jazz Panorama, in a blindfold test he was
uncharacteristically congratulatory: “I think she’s wonderful,
and the musicians sound so beautiful. That’s the best singing I’ve heard in
ages, that’s just really wonderful”
“Anyone who can sing
Billie Holiday that well, with such musicianship and such amazing and incredible
intelligence is such a feat. Other people have tried it and they were lousy and
never made it. But she sounds pure and clear, there was no fat on there
anywhere…she’ll just end up singing better than anybody, that’s what I
Thus spoke the legendary top American trumpet man Ruby Braff.
There’s one more thing to
consider: Billie Holiday’s active recording, broadcasting and touring career
covered the period 1933 to 1959 – 26 years. Lady Sings The Blues has been on the
road recording and broadcasting, performing the Billie Holiday repertoire since
1987 – that’s 31 years and still counting.