Interview: Danny Bank on Billie - JazzWax

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September 07, 2007


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Jim Brown

I bought this LP when it first came out, right after Lady died. At first I didn't "get it," and the fact that she sounded awful dominated my reaction to it. As I matured, however, it became one of my favorite of Lady's recordings.

While I hear all the pain and physical deterioration, I must strongly disagree that "Last Recording" is not essential Lady Day. Indeed, I think it is one of her most personal documents, and far more emotionally involved than Lady In Satin.

I had the opportunity to hear Al Cohn at Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase not long before he died, Gerry Mulligan on a jazz cruise in what may have been his last public performance, Coleman Hawkins on WTTW a few days before he passed, and Gene Ammons at the Jazz Showcase in his last days. These artists were all in pain, knew they hadn't long to live, but poured every element of their being into those performances, and they were magnificent. I hear that in Lady on this session, and it is damned essential.

Jim Brown
Santa Cruz, CA

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the music you listen to all influence the way you think and feel about yourself and the world around you.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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