Friday, September 18, 2009

Billie Holiday - Life Begins When You're in Love

Available on Amazon, EMusic, and iTunes.

This is basically just another Billie Holiday record, with backing from Teddy Wilson & his orchestra.

Which is to say, it's great, charming, everything that I love about old jazz. I mention it because I played it at the end of the night a few weeks ago, and thought it was a nice note to end on. I usually DJ the early set at Fizz, passing things off to another DJ at 11:00 p.m. who keeps things rolling, so I seldom have to pick out a song to end the night on. Back when I lived in Boston, the DJ at one of the regular dances ALWAYS played Lou Rawls as the last song of the night. Like clockwork. When I do have to pick a closer, I usually like to go with something a little upbeat and/or catchy to put a spring in people's step when they leave (and just in case anyone isn't totally worn out at the end of the night). I'd be curious to hear from other DJ's--do you do anything particular? Or just keep rolling as you would normally, until the clock runs out?

I like this particular track for the end of the night because of the mood it leaves you with. I also like that it opens with instrumentals: we get a nice trumpet solo from Chris Griffin (from the Benny Goodman big band) and brief saxophone response before the vocal comes in, nearly a minute into the song. The beginning is all janky, and then Billie's vocal comes in very stretched out and languid, creating a nice contrast. Then after the verse, we get longer statements from the tenor sax (Teddy McRae), piano (Teddy Wilson), and clarinet (Rudy Powell), and the whole thing resolves quickly. And that's it for tonight.

Hat-tip to Alex Protopopescu on SwingDJs for the personnel information. In addition to the soloists mentioned above, the track has John Trueheart on guitar, Grachan Moncur on bass, and Cozy Cole on the drums.

1 comment:

  1. James,

    I finally got on to this and started reading some of this. I look forward to reading more of the posts, but this one particular post inspired a response...

    The last song of the night is something I've always thought about a lot. I think it really matters what the crowd is feeling and what event. I think if it's a bluesy late night, the song should be slower to cool everyone off before leaving. I've always left late nights more relaxed and at peace when the last song is slower. However, sometimes, I think the crowd needs and wants something upbeat. This keeps the crowd wanting more dances and anticipating the next time you would DJ. All in all, I think it depends on the mood and event.

    This post reminded me of Frankie Manning's lecture when he was in Chicago for WCLX7. He talked about back in the days at the Savoy where if the band played an upbeat tune no one would want to leave and they'd be there all night. So, when it came later in the night, the band used to slow it down and play waltz. That was the only way they could get dancers to leave.

    Now, I don't recommend playing waltz at a swing event, but this post inspired that story. I'll read up on some other posts and respond to some others when I get an opportunity

    - Bob Bednarz