Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blind and Mellow

I had a bit of an accident the other day : I walked into a lamp-post. The cause was not my renowned passion for lamp-post spotting, nor was it a surfeit of alcohol. The fault lay fair and square with the divine Billie Holiday. As I have mentioned many times before, when I walk Amy the Dog, I listen to my MP3 player, normally to one of a selection of regular podcasts (and before you ask my Podcast of the Month Awards will be returning later this month). I acquired a new MP3 player for my birthday and discovered that it had the ability to replay video clips. I decided to experiment and quickly found a fabulous clip of Billie Holiday singing "Fine and Mellow" on YouTube. Filmed back in 1957, the 6 minute clip features not only Billie Holiday, but also a host of jazz legends.

This is how the clip is described on the New Musical Express website: "Reunited after many years with tenor saxophonist Lester Young, Billie's visual reaction to his moving solo remains as eloquent as anything she ever sang; a touching finale to their historic musical partnership. Introduced by Robert Herridge (producer/host of CBS' "The Sound of Jazz"), this is perhaps the single most famous "live jazz" performance in TV history. Other members of the all-star band seen here: Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Gerry Mulligan, Roy Eldridge, Doc Cheatham, Vic Dickenson, Danny Barker, Milt Hinton, Mal Waldron..."We shall not see their likes again."

It doesn't take much effort to guess what happened when I started to watch the performance as I walked Amy down Bradley Road. I became totally mesmerised and as Roy Eldridge was hitting notes so high they almost hurt, I walked straight into a lamp-post. Luckily the damage was only minor and the resulting blindness was temporary. I am incorporating the clip for you to judge for yourself. Turn the volume up high, sit back and get prepared to be carried away. But be warned : do not watch it on your ipod as you walk.

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