BILLIE HOLIDAY (1915 - 1959)
Lady Day was born under the name of Eleanora Fagan. How much suffering does it take to express love, pain, despair, or even life itself? Few singers have communicated emotions like Billie Holiday. Her father, a jazz guitarist, wouldn’t recognise her and so refused to give his daughter his name. He was more interested in nightlife than in family life. Billie’s mother was a cleaner, cook and occasional prostitute who abandoned her daughter to the care of her aunts or a reformatory. Billie had a life of violence that commonly included rape and physical abuse of all kinds. In between prostitution, prison and a few gigs in sordid dives where a customer’s generosity was her only means of support, Billie managed to record for Columbia when she was only nineteen. It was the beginning of a recognition that never waned over the years. Few voices of the past eight decades were as capable of moving the hearts of those who loved female singers in the same way as Billie Holiday.
The history of music shows us that different kinds and forms follow each other. And that the latest trend overshadows the one that came before it. Today it's difficult to say exactly which trend dominates, as there are so many music currents that overlap and intersect. Mainstream exists no longer. Yet one thing is certain: each music form is built on the music that precedes it. There would be no jazz without classical music, no rock without blues, no rock without jazz, no rap without soul music, no sampling without the riffs of either soul or rock… and therefore, inside each genre you find different chapters in the history of music. And that is why it is so important to understand their origins: they shed the light that is necessary for an understanding of the music born every day.
The richness of jazz lies at the origin of so much music today that it is essential to discover this creative wealth. The Essential Works of Masters of Jazz bring to light those 20th century creations that still exert an influence on the majority of musicians today — whether they are aware of it or not.
The Essential Works of Masters of Jazz gather the fundamental creations of the music of today.