I know I have praised her numerous of time already, but Billie Holiday was a true jazz legend. The more I listen to her the more I discover her unique talent. In addition to her ability to express every word she sang, she broke many rules. Unlike many jazz singers, Lady Day never scatted or altered the lyrics. Instead, she improvised on the timing, the phrasing and the placing of notes. As a result, she could turn any standard into her own no matter how many times the tune had been covered.
Lady In Satin is one of my personal favorite Billie’s records. At this point in her career, she only seemed to be interested in expressing the lyrics and her interpretation of “The End of a Love Affair” is simply heartbreaking. To my astonishment, Billie didn’t even know the song. In a bonus track, which captures the recording session of “The End of a Love Affair,” Billie told the producer, “I don’t know it. Mel, please try to put much noise as you can and loud as you can. I don’t know the tune.”
Although Billie didn’t know the song, she recorded it right on the spot. Like an instrumentalist, she listened to the band playing and then sang along behind the beat with her very own interpretation. Now that is some serious improvisations.