July 24, 2021

the voice of Etta James and the repertoire of Billie Holiday, the formula of pleasure

Why we recommend it We talk about Etta James and the immense Billie Holiday, two of the most impressive artists that jazz gave. It is not little, considering the amount of wonderful voices and temperaments that inhabit the geography of the genre throughout its history. Y on Mystery Lady combine in an extraordinary way.

Billie Holiday was 23 years older than Etta James, I was in this world for 21 when Lady Day died of cirrhosis of the liver, with only 44 years of age, although possibly many more lived.

By then Etta had been singing for a long time. Since the times when her foster dad would wake her up to force her to sing for your friends after a drink at dawn. The picture completed it his absent mother, whom he christened “mystery lady”, and that has probably added inspiration for James, when deciding to record the repertoire of Holiday. Also, of course

The result of the combination is absolutely fantastic. From the incredible Don’t Explain, even the beautiful I’ll Be Seeing Youtaciturn, conclusive, intimate, all in Mystery Lady, released in 1994, is perfect.

The list of topics is overwhelming: in addition to the two mentioned, You’ve Changed, The Man I Love, I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance (With You), Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?), Embraceable You, How Deep Is the Ocean, (I’m Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over, Body and Soul YThe Very Thought of You they complete a devastating sequence, with an impeccable orchestration.

There the Gershwin brothers, Bing Crosby, Irving Berlin, Jimmy Davis, Johnny Green; names that have long been part of the cultural heritage of humanity, and which Etta honors with deeply moving performances.

This is the cover of “Mystery Lady – The Songs of Billie Holiday”, the album published by Etta James in 1994, with which he won a Grammy Award.

Of course, James is not Holiday nor does he pretend to be. Comparing them is as absurd a purpose as comparing the versions of such masterpieces of music. Better than that is looking for the best place to let yourself be carried away by a prodigious voice and songs whose lyrics you don’t have to understand to understand everything.

Unless, of course, that where blood should circulate, just run cold tomato juice.

E.S.

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