Those were the days when great swinging folks met on 52nd Street and in the after hours joints Minton’s & Monroe’s, up in Harlem.

Jerry Newman was around there too, waxing Art Tatum a.k.a. God when he was playing on small upright pianos with missing keys, when ‘Little Jazz’ Roy Eldridge was challenging ‘Hot Lips’ Page and Joe Guy, his closest competitor in sound & swing.

Early Bird with Jay McShann from Kansas, Diz, Monk, Charlie & Klook:

Happy Days, great fun, with a yet unnamed musical revolution coming right through the backdoor: Bebop.

Lady Day was cutting it loose there too. Alas, only two tracks from 1941 have survived.

Here they are: I Cried For You & Fine And Mellow.

This is Billie Holiday at her sharpest, happiest, in a setting she felt most comfortable: Late at night, or rather in the early morning, jamming freely with some eager, though mostly unknown fellows, having fun while she was swinging the blues.


Credits: Billie Holiday (voc) Floyd “Horsecollar” Williams (as), unknown (p) and (b) – Minton’s Playhouse, June 1941;

P.S.: Trumpet colleague Pauly Cohen (89) who heard Billie ‘live’ on 52nd Street is remembering Lady’s beautiful appearance very vividly:

Big thanks to Bret Primack for this splendid interview.

Another P.S. with Lady:

This entry was posted in Jazz Stories & Tales, Invented Truths & Actual Happenings. Bookmark the permalink.