When acclaimed Trumpeter/Composer/Music Educator/JAZZ At LINCOLN CENTER Musical Director WYNTON MARSALIS was 24, he spent a year listening to the PHILADELPHIA-born woman whose birth name was ELEANORA FAGAN, but who came to be known around the world as legendary Jazz Singer/Songwriter BILLIE HOLIDAY!!!
WYNTON MARSALIS says;
“I listened to every record I could find of hers, and every day I only listened to her.”One might expect a young Marsalis to spend a year with Louis Armstrong or Dizzy Gillespie, musicians who excelled on the trumpet, which he plays. But Holiday’s own instrument, her voice, contains multitudes — lessons on rhythm, phrasing and sophistication that any student of jazz would do well to study.
WYNTON spoke with LIFE Journalists LIZABETH RONK, ARPITA ANEJA, and ELIZA BERMAN to commemorate April 7, 1915 - the 100th Anniversary of the birth of BILLIE HOLIDAY (April 7, 1915 - July 17, 1959).
In the video below, he discusses her rhythmic sensibility, why it’s a mistake to attribute the quality of her voice to the hardship of her life, how she came to be recognized as one of the greatest voices in the history of jazz, and why we all should celebrate 100 YEARS Of LADY DAY.