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Billie and dog_edited-1At UK 8 pm time there is a special two hour BBC radio show to celebrate the centenary of Billie Holiday. It stars Madeline Bell, Gloria Onitiri and Rebecca Ferguson. With the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Mike Dixon and featuring Guy Barker on trumpet and Ben Castle on tenor sax. The concert tells the story of Billie Holiday’s dramatic rise from poverty and prostitution to becoming one of the most influential jazz singers of all time. Among the songs, the classics ‘What A Moonlight Can Do’, ‘Don’t Worry About Me’, ‘Strange’ Fruit’, ‘Don’t Explain’, ‘I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues’ and God ‘Bless the Child’.

You can listen from anywhere around the world, here

Get God Bless The Child, our brand new Billie Holiday compilation, here

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Cyndi April 11th at 2:47pm

Billie has been the soundtrack of my life for many years. She was just pure magic. Her voice soothes my soul.

On Sunday evening at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. there was an all star concert to celebrate 75 years of Blue Note Records. Now thanks to National Public Radio in america when can all enjoy the concert because they recorded it and have made it available on their web site.

You can listen to it here

This is really not to be missed, as you can see from the line-up…

Robert Glasper & Jason Moran, “Boogie Woogie Stomp” (Glasper, piano; Moran, piano)

Lou Donaldson feat. Dr. Lonnie Smith, “Blues Walk” (Donaldson, alto saxophone; Smith, organ; Lionel Loueke, guitar; Kendrick Scott, drums)

Lou Donaldson feat. Dr. Lonnie Smith, “Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman” (same personnel)

Lou Donaldson feat. Dr. Lonnie Smith, “Alligator Boogaloo” (same personnel)

Joe Lovano, “Fort Worth/I’m All For You” (Lovano, tenor saxophone; Lionel Loueke, guitar; Fabian Almazan, piano; Derrick Hodge, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums)

Bobby Hutcherson & McCoy Tyner, “Walk Spirit Talk Spirit” (Hutcherson, vibraphone; Tyner, piano)

Bobby Hutcherson & McCoy Tyner, “Blues On The Corner” (same personnel)

Bobby Hutcherson & McCoy Tyner, “African Village” (same personnel)

Dianne Reeves, “Dreams” (Reeves, voice; Terence Blanchard, trumpet; Robert Glasper, piano; Derrick Hodge, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums)

Dianne Reeves, “Stormy Weather” (Reeves, voice; Terence Blanchard, trumpet; Peter Martin, piano; Derrick Hodge, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums)

Terence Blanchard, “Wandering Wonder” (Blanchard, trumpet; Lionel Loueke, guitar; Fabian Almazan, piano; Derrick Hodge, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums)

Norah Jones, “The Nearness Of You” (Jones, voice/piano)

Norah Jones, “I’ve Got To See You Again” (Jones, voice; Wayne Shorter, saxophone; Jason Moran, piano; John Patitucci, bass; Brian Blade, drums)

Wayne Shorter, Medley (Shorter, saxophone; Danilo Perez, piano; John Patitucci, bass; Brian Blade, drums)



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Curtis Stigers in the Big Top

Last evening, a packed Big Top at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival was entertained by the BBC Concert Orchestra, The Guy Barker Big Band, Liane Carroll, Curtis Stigers and Kurt Elling – and what entertainment it was. Hosted by Jeremy Vine it was all themed around Prohibition, Al Capone, the ‘halcyon days’ of New York and Chicago’s speakeasies, the famous Cotton Club and a time when swing was the thing, torch songs and the singers with the big bands were not just jazz, they was pop!

Broadcast live on the BBC’s Friday Night Is Music Night the evening opened with Sing, Sing, Sing, Louis Prima’s classic made famous by Benny Goodman’s Orchestra with Gene Krupa. It was a scintillating way to start with the horns, the full sized string section and some powerhouse drumming on Guy Barker’s arrangement made this the perfect opener. Appropriately the evening closed with a medley of Louis Prima classics including Jump, Jive & Wail…by which time The Joint is Jumpin‘ – the Fats Waller song had been performed with stylish, effortless panache half way through the concert by Curtis, Kurt and Liane.

Many in the audience had probably never seen Kurt Elling perform live and when he finished his opening number, Blue Skies there was a momentary pause before some thunderous applause from an audience that was in shock at the dexterity of his vocals. he went on to sing I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, I Like The Sunrise, an awesome version of Cab Calloway’s Minnie The Moocher (it felt like we were all back in the Cotton Club in ’31) with some help from the audience on vocals and his closing solo number was Ellington’s Tootie For Cootie to which Elling had put words to trumpet player Cootie Williams’s solos – it was quiet simply astonishing – and wonderful. Kurtis Stigers, who has played the festival before is a more traditional jazz singer than Elling but he was a huge hit, giving us, Someday You’ll be sorry ( a rarity, a Louis Armstrong composition), the fabulous, I Found a Million Dollar Baby in a 5 & 10 Cents Store and a quiet, understated but simply beautiful version of Blame It On My Youth. Curtis Stigers is a singer who is way more substance than he is flash, making him one of the best modern-day interpreters of the Great American Songbook.

And then there was Liane. She opened with a stunning version of Ethel Waters, Stormy Weather, another staple of the Cotton Club. Later there was Midnight Sun, a sassy Love For Sale and Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be). These were all brilliant but the showstopper was The Man I Love – who can forget Billie Holiday with Lester Young absolutely killing this number in 1939? While No one could forget Lady Day, let me tell you Liane managed to redefine this song in a way that made it all her own last night.

After the concert we went back to the Hotel Du Vin where, after midnight, both Kurt and Liane jammed in that way that jazz musicians who love their craft do. Giving freely of themselves, their talent and their time. Some people who had dined there earlier and stayed on when the music started were initially unaware of what they were in for. What they got was world class singers giving of their best.


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