Dan Morgenstern on Billie Holiday

Now, A Jazz Moment...

MUSIC: "Stormy Weather" CD: Billie Holiday Yesterdays, Proper Intro CD 2015 (cut 18)

Dan Morgenstern: Billie Holiday had a magic with a song. Carmen McCrae who knew Billie very well said that the only time that Billie Holiday was really at ease with herself and the world was when she was performing.

Writer Dan Morgenstern -- recipient of the NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy -- has had a soft spot for Billie Holiday since his college days in the 1950s. When given the chance, he didn't hesitate to spend the last of his meager monthly G.I. stipend to hear Billie sing live.

If you caught Billie live and she was on form it was quite something. And what she could do with a popular song -- I give you a for instance - there's a beautiful recording of fairly late Billie with Oscar Peterson doing "These Foolish Things." It's just something. It transforms that into something that sounds like real poetry. What she does with the phrasing and the time. But it's mostly the emotional content that gets you.

MUSIC: "These Foolish Things" CD: Billie Holiday Yesterdays, Proper Intro CD 2015 (cut 6)

This Jazz Moment with Writer and historian Dan Morgenstern was created by the National Endowment for the Arts. I'm Delfeayo Marsalis .

Dan Morgenstern on Billie Holiday