May 31, 2009 – 4:31 am

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Broadway in Satin: Billie Holiday Revisited [no label, 2CD]

Studio Charles Trénet, Maison de Radio France, Paris. March 1, 2009. Very good FM recording.

For the 50th anniversary of Billie Holiday’s death, Daniel Yvinec’s L’Orchestre National Du Jazz had Alban Darche compose new arrangements for Holiday’s classic songs. So Skylark is given an Asian flavour in the instrumental colours of Chinese cymbals and gongs, while You’ve Changed and God Bless the Child are given avant-garde arrangements.

The featured vocalists are the up-and-coming Karen Lanaud, who brings out the romance of ballads such as Skylark, and European jazz/blues fixture, Ian Siegal, whose raspy Tom Waits vocal inflection squeezes out the melancholy in Holiday chestnuts such as Solitude.

But without free jazz saxophonist Archie Shepp’s involvement, the grit of Billie Holiday’s struggling life wouldn’t have been revisited. In this 90-min radio broadcast, Shepp only appears towards the end as a recorded voice reading out Holiday’s heartbreaking autobiography of how she got hired to sing as a jazz musician.

To reflect on Shepp’s symbolic role in this event, let’s remember what he himself once said: “We would give money to our political organizations to press leaflets. We would go up to Harlem. We would support whatever was going on at the time, Urban League, the more radical Black Panthers, whatever. I played concerts, gigs, spoke on the streets. I was engaged. You don’t find that these days, but why would you?

“I think the world has been made more comfortable. It is the world of Oprah Winfreys today. She is the model for black women, in the sense that she is a billionaire. I don’t think she does much. She is typical. There is nothing against Ms. Winfrey. She is a very talented and a beautiful woman, but I don’t think she is very effective even though she is rich. That is typical of our people today with young billionaires and all these musicians and Michael Jordan and Shaq and Whitney Houston.

“I think they form a class of people today that for young black people, they are set up by the establishment to be seen as models, but in fact, these are really hollow men and hollow women. They are people without any clue of their own political history or historical knowledge of where they come from, even their understanding of their own culture and what they produce and its meaning to other things that are produced within their own culture and so called jazz music. They don’t see any relationships and they don’t make any relationships.

“The people who should really be controlling jazz today should be Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson and these people. They should be putting their money into that kind of production. Of course, jazz doesn’t make any money, but they could use it as a tax write off. White folks do.

“The problem with the Negro is that I think is that basically we still haven’t recovered from our slave mentality. Look at all this music made by black people. It is a US$13 billion industry and there is not a single jazz club of any stature owned by a black man or woman in the United States. If you know one, tell me.”

You would have needed to tell Billie Holiday back then as well. - Philip Cheah

Thanks to uncle meat for sharing the tracks on the Dime site.

Note: Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality MP3s - sample rate of 192 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Disc 1
Track 101. intro (2:46) (3.8MB)
Track 102. Ouverture (1:56) (2.6MB)
Track 103. In my solitude (5:23) (7.4MB)
Track 104. Skylark (5:59) (8.2MB)
Track 105. I’m a fool to want you (9:41) (13.6MB - visit the html page to download the track)
Track 106. I’ll be seeing you (3:56)
Track 107. intro (0:33) (788k)
Track 108. God bless the child (11:40) (16.4MB - visit the html page to download the track)
Track 109. Strange Fruit (5:24) (7.4MB)
Track 110. intro (0:35) (843k)
Track 111. You’ve changed (9:50) (13.8MB - visit the html page to download the track)
Track 112. Don’t explain (7:22) (10.1MB)

Disc 2
Track 201. intro (0:15) (375k)
Track 202. Gloomy Sunday (8:03) (11.0MB)
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Click here if you reside outside the United States
Track 203. My man (5:24) (7.4MB)
Track 204. intro (0:21) (516k)
Track 205. Finale (2:16) (3.1MB)
Track 206. outro (1:31) (2.0MB)

Alban Darche (arrangements et direction)
Eve Risser (piano, flûte)
Vincent Lafont (piano électrique, synthétiseur, échantillonneur)
Antonin-Tri Hoang (saxophone alto, clarinette basse)
Matthieu Metzger (saxophones alto, ténor et sopranino)
Joce Mienniel (flûtes soprano, effets électroniques)
Rémi Dumoulin (saxophone ténor, clarinette & clarinette basse)
Guillaume Poncelet (trompette)
Pierre Perchaud (guitare, banjo)
Sylvain Daniel (guitare basse, cor d’harmonie)
Yoann Serra (batterie & percussions)
Karen Lanaud (voix)
Ian Siegal (voix)
Archie Shepp (récitant - voix enregistrée)
Gilles Olivesi (traitement sonore)

Click here to order Billie Holiday releases.


  2. Thanks for the beautiful show !!!

    By Revolutionarybum on May 31, 2009

  3. A simply sublime musical tribute to the memory of Lady Day. This program goes to show that good musics transcends culture and time period. Bravo!

    By R. Mark Desjardins on Jun 11, 2009

  4. We live in the Netherlands and went especially to Amiens to see this show. We’ve invited another Dutch couple to join, we’re all Ian Siegal fans but this was sooooo special. Great show, terrific musicians and sooo avant garde. Thanks for this experience!

    By José Gallois & femme on Jun 18, 2009

  5. So there….! Almost everything can happen with BigO, with a bit of searching…

    Actually, there are too many Billie Holiday reissues, so it’s a bit of a problem to choose from one label to one another. I still think that her peak was from the Verve period and, sure, “Lady In Satin” is my favorite of her. I’d never heard of this tribute show — must be something to listen to carefully.

    Having said all that, the name of Billie Holiday always reminds me of a stupid anecdote still floating around and waiting to be cleared off.
    Someone, somewhere, some day, apparently thought I compared her to Billie Holiday, for bad reasons and not for good ones — of course!
    I think the misunderstanding was coming from a band from Paris called Billie who had sent me a MySpace invite. A fun band for what it was at that time — the Releafed page…

    Anyway, the tragedy with the Internet is to see how people can interpret and get things terribly wrong and suffer from it, never realizing the nonsense of it all. Don’t get me wrong, however, I’m not the last one to fall into it from time to time…!

    But what can we do if there’s no effort to make things straight?!

    So, I got very angry with it later…. Until I found that, after all, the allusions and comparisons were to be taken as a great compliment… for Billie Holiday!

    By Serge Zéni on Aug 3, 2010

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