9 months ago

HHr-PJM 2017-FINAL2 -Publishing Version

Pure Jazz Magazine covers the music called Jazz from a very unique perspective not seen in most publications.

``The Dazzling Duo….

``The Dazzling Duo…. Holiday and Young” By Ray Leitos Billy Holiday and Lester Young at CBS Television Studios Billy Holiday and Lester young were two of the greatest jazz entertainers to visit this planet earth. They both used their instruments (vocally in Holiday’s case and tenor sax in Young’s case) imaginatively so they could play the way they wanted to play Page 8 - Pure Jazz Magazine depending on how they felt. Billy Holiday stated, “I hate singing straight and I want to use my voice like the horns of Louis Armstrong or Lester Young; I have to change the tune to my way of doing it.” Billie Holiday met Lester Young around 1931 when they both worked in the Fletcher Henderson orchestra she also reunited with her father Clarence Holiday around this time. (More about him later) Lester Young grew up in New Orleans

from a musical family. His father who taught him how to play the clarinet was abusive towards him, but he still compelled him to join the family band as a teenager. The band toured the prejudiced south but Lester was dissatisfied with the segregation and quit the band because of it. He began to try to make it by himself. He was doing quite well until around 1944 when he was drafted into the army. He was a musician but he was not allowed to play his instrument while in the service. They found him with drugs and gave him a year in jail because of it. Lester felt it was because he was bedding a white woman at this time. This experience along with the abusiveness of his father seemed to change him psychologically; he was never the same afterward. He was given a dishonorable discharge. Both Billy and Lester were vulnerable; both were hurt deeply by facts and circumstances in their lives. They both felt disconnected from society and they both could be expansively creative because of it. Lester was not encouraged to be unique early in his career when he was in the Fletcher Henderson orchestra but when he joined the Count Basie band at the Reno room in Kansas City Missouri in 1934, he finally had his chance to bloom. His style contrasted with the style of Coleman Hawkins. Hawkins had a heavy driving tenor sax while Young’s tenor sax was light and smooth. In the early 1930s Billie and Lester worked together in Count Basie’s band and in nightclubs. Lester even moved in with Billie and her mother Sadie and as Billie stated, “he was always a gentleman.” She always insisted that their relationship was strictly platonic. However it was stated by those around them that they knew what each was thinking without speaking. They even gave each other names, Lester called her ‘Lady Day’ and she called him ‘Prez’ because they both considered each other the best at what they did. Lester was good at making up names and words and was even reported to have his own language. When getting information on how much money he was to be paid for a gig, he would ask, “How does the bread smell?” The word ‘cool’ was said to originate from his language. His booking agents went crazy when all they could get out of him was bell or ding for whatever question they asked him. He appeared to come straight from another dimension. He wore a pork pie hat, high water pants and moccasins. Billie Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Sarah Julia “Sadie” Fagan who was 13 years old and Clarence Holiday who was 15 years old at the time of her birth. It was reported that they got married later. What we do know for sure is that Clarence Holiday left his family to become a guitar player to make a life for himself. Sadie and Eleanora had to struggle alone. In order to survive and work Sadie had to leave Eleanora with relatives. Some of the young males in the family took advantage of this situation. In fact a nextdoor neighbor, a Mr. Wilbur Wright, fondly called Mr. Bill was caught by Sadie Fagan having sex with her eleven-yearold daughter. Sadie called the police but nothing happened to Mr. Bill. However the young Eleanora, as if it were her fault, was sent to a Catholic adolescent boarding school. She had been in this school before for truancy but this time was different for she felt she had done nothing wrong. She said something sassy to one of the nuns and as punishment was put in a cell with a dead body overnight. She cried and scrapped at the door until her fingers bled. She was ignored. In another instance Billie used to like to listen to her great- grandmother tell stories about her life on the plantation of Charles Fagan, the father of her sixteen children. One day she was lying down with Granny taking a nap and when she woke up Granny’s arms were locked around her body and Granny was dead. Eleanora was traumatized by the experience. Eleanora was nearly twelve years old when she found a job running errands in a brothel in Baltimore, Maryland. During this time Eleanora first heard the records of Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong. Since she demonstrated throughout her career that she had an unusual ear for tones and music, it’s conceivable that she imitated what she heard. This was the beginning of what was to be a stellar career. In 1929 Eleanora joined her mother Sadie in Harlem. Both mother and daughter became ‘ladies of the night’. The police raided the brothel they worked out of and they were arrested. After getting out of jail Eleanora was looking for work and ventured into a bar called Jerry Preston’s Log Cabin on 133 rd Street in Harlem, New York City. The owners needed dancers and singers. She could not dance but she discovered she was good at singing. She sang “Body And Soul” and made two whole dollars for the night. She worked this job six nights a week from twelve at night to three the next day. Billie’s father used to call her Bill because she was so tomboyish as a child. When Billie was faced with a career of entertaining she chose the name of her screen idol Billie Dove because she thought it was pretty. From 1929 to 1931 she teamed up with a neighbor tenor sax player called Kenneth Wilson. They were a team performing at local spots like Gray Dawn, Pod and Jerrys and the Brooklyn Elks Club. It was during this time that she reconnected with her father Clarence Holi- Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 9