Lady in Satin
|Lady in Satin|
|Studio album by|
|Recorded||February 19–21, 1958|
|Studio||Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York City, New York|
|Billie Holiday chronology|
Lady in Satin is an album by the jazz singer Billie Holiday released in 1958 on Columbia Records, catalogue CL 1157 in mono and CS 8048 in stereo. It is the penultimate album completed by the singer and last released in her lifetime (her final album, Last Recording, being recorded in March 1959 and released just after her death). The original album was produced by Irving Townsend and engineered by Fred Plaut.
For the majority of the 1950s, Billie Holiday was signed to jazz producer Norman Granz's Clef Records, which was later absorbed into the newly founded Verve Records by 1956. All of her work for Norman Granz consisted of small jazz combos, reuniting her with musicians she recorded with back in the 1930s when she made her first recordings with Teddy Wilson. There were talks in the early 1950s of Holiday making albums, or songbooks, dedicated to composers such as George and Ira Gershwin and Jerome Kern, but they fell through and ended up going to Ella Fitzgerald when she signed to Verve. By 1957, Holiday had recorded twelve albums for Granz and was unhappy. Therefore, she decided not to renew her contract.
By October 1957, Holiday contacted Columbia producer Irving Townsend and expressed interest in recording with bandleader Ray Ellis after listening to his album Ellis in Wonderland. Originally, she wanted to do an album with bandleader Nelson Riddle after hearing his arrangements for Frank Sinatra's albums, particularly In the Wee Small Hours, but after hearing Ellis's version of "For All We Know", she wanted to record with him. When Holiday came to Townsend about the album, he was surprised:
It would be like Ella Fitzgerald saying that she wanted to record with Ray Conniff. But she said she wanted a pretty album, something delicate. She said this over and over. She thought it would be beautiful. She wasn't interested in some wild swinging jam session...She wanted that cushion under her voice. She wanted to be flattered by that kind of sound.
Townsend got in touch with Ellis about the album. Ellis, having heard of Holiday's work throughout the 1930s and 1940s, was excited for the project, saying, "I couldn't believe it...I didn't know she was aware of me." Townsend arranged a meeting for both Holiday and Ellis to sign a contract with Columbia. Columbia provided an unlimited budget for the album. The musicians in the orchestra were paid $60 for the three sessions and Holiday was paid $150 per side in advance. Townsend went on to set up the recording dates for late February 1958.
When Holiday signed her contract for Columbia, the label looked at it as a new beginning, for this was her return to the label after sixteen years. During Holiday's time with Norman Granz's label, she revisited old material she had previously recorded and songs that were well known in her repertoire, such as "My Man", "Lover, Come Back to Me", "I Cover the Waterfront", "Them There Eyes" and "I Only Have Eyes for You". Columbia wanted Holiday to do an album of songs she had never recorded before, so the song material for Lady in Satin derived from the usual sources for Holiday in her three-decade career, that of the Great American Songbook of classic pop. Also, unlike the bulk of Holiday's recordings with Norman Granz and her early years at Columbia in the 1930s and early 1940s, rather than in the setting of a jazz combo Holiday returns to the backdrop of full orchestral arrangements as done during her Decca years eight years earlier. She wanted the album to be in the same contemporary vein of Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald on her Song Books series.
Ray Ellis made his arrangements of the songs to match Holiday's voice. By the mid- to late-1950s, Holiday's voice changed drastically due to years of alcohol and drug abuse, altering its texture and gave it a fragile, raspy sound. Despite her voice's setback, she never lost the edge that had always made it so distinctive and was able to still use her style of phrasing that made her a popular jazz singer. Ray Ellis said of Holiday's voice:
I heard her voice [and] I dug it. I was in love with that voice and I was picturing a very evil, sensuous, sultry, very evil...probably one of the most evil voices I've heard in my life...Evil is earthy to me. When you say someone is evil, it means very, very bad. I don't mean bad.
Ellis used a 40-piece orchestra, complete with horns, strings, reeds and even a three-piece choir. It would turn out to be Holiday's most expensive music production. Soloists on the album included Mel Davis, Urbie Green and the bebop trombone pioneer J. J. Johnson.
|Penguin Guide to Jazz||()|
|The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide|||
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
Reaction to the album has been mixed. Holiday's voice had lost much of its upper range in her 40s, although she still retained her rhythmic phrasing. The Penguin Guide to Jazz gave the album a three-star rating out of a possible four stars, but expressed a basic reservation about the album, describing it as "a voyeuristic look at a beaten woman." The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide said "Lady in Satin presents the Lady overdressed. It's an album from the late Fifties, when much of Billie's punch was gone."
I would say that the most emotional moment was her listening to the playback of "I'm a Fool to Want You". There were tears in her eyes...After we finished the album I went into the control room and listened to all the takes. I must admit I was unhappy with her performance, but I was just listening musically instead of emotionally. It wasn't until I heard the final mix a few weeks later that I realized how great her performance really was.
Lady in Satin was reissued by Legacy Records on September 23, 1997, remastering using 20-bit technology with four bonus tracks. Reissue producer Phil Schaap located the unused master tape for the stereo version of "The End of a Love Affair," and included a stereo mix of the "I'm a Fool to Want You" take which had been used on the mono LP. Lady in Satin was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000.
In 2020, Rolling Stone magazine rated the album at number 317 in the Top 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time.
The album was released in stereo (CS 8048) and mono (CL 1157) versions; the mono release contained an extra track, "The End of a Love Affair".
LP Side One
- "I'm a Fool to Want You" (Frank Sinatra, Joel Herron, Jack Wolf) – 3:23
- "For Heaven's Sake" (Elise Bretton, Sherman Edwards, Donald Meyer) – 3:26
- "You Don't Know What Love Is" (Gene DePaul, Don Raye) – 3:48
- "I Get Along Without You Very Well" (Hoagy Carmichael) – 2:59
- "For All We Know" (J. Fred Coots, Sam M. Lewis) – 2:53
- "Violets for Your Furs" (Tom Adair, Matt Dennis) – 3:24
LP Side Two
- "You've Changed" (Bill Carey, Carl T. Fischer) – 3:17
- "It's Easy to Remember" (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers) – 4:01
- "But Beautiful" (w. Johnny Burke, m. Jimmy Van Heusen) – 4:29
- "Glad to Be Unhappy" (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers)– 4:07
- "I'll Be Around" (Alec Wilder) – 3:23
- "The End of a Love Affair" (Edward Redding) – 4:46 [mono only]
1997 Legacy Records CD release
The Centennial Edition
On April 14, 2015, Columbia Records released a three-CD set album, Lady in Satin: The Centennial Edition, a week after the 100th anniversary of Billie Holiday's 100th birth. Roughly 70 minutes' worth of material—including 13 complete tracks, incomplete tracks, studio chatter, breakdowns, false starts and warm-ups, are present on the album. Previously, all of it (except for those fragments without Billie Holiday) had been released by Michael Fontannes on his Kangourou/Masters of Jazz Label, Volume 27.
Track listing of The Centennial Edition
- Performers and musicians
- Billie Holiday – lead vocals
- Ray Ellis – conductor
- Claus Ogerman – arranger
- George Ockner – violin and concertmaster
- Emmanual Green - violin
- Harry Hoffman - violin
- Harry Katzmann - violin
- Leo Kruczek - violin
- Milton Lomask - violin
- Harry Meinikoff - violin
- David Newman - violin
- Samuel Rand - violin
- David Sarcer - violin
- Sid Brecher - viola
- Richard Dichler - viola
- David Soyer - cello
- Maurice Brown - cello
- Janet Putman - harp
- Danny Bank - flute
- Phil Bodner - flute
- Romeo Penque - flute
- Tom Parshley - flute
- Mel Davis - trumpet (solos on "You Don't Know What Love Is" and "But Beautiful")
- Billy Butterfield - trumpet
- Jimmy Ochner - trumpet
- Bernie Glow - trumpet
- J.J. Johnson - trombone (solo on "Glad to be Unhappy and "I Get Along Without you (Except Sometimes)")
- Urbie Green - trombone (solos on "I'm a Fool to Want You" and "It's Easy to Remember")
- Jack Green - trombone
- Tommy Mitchell - bass trombone
- Mal Waldron - piano
- Barry Galbraith - guitar
- Milt Hinton - double bass
- Osie Johnson - drums
- Elise Bretton - backing vocals
- Miriam Workman - backing vocals
- Editorial Staff (June 14, 1958). "June Album Releases" (PDF). The Cash Box. The Cash Box Publishing Co. Inc., NY. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- Billboard June 2, 1958
- Blackburn, Julia (2005), With Billie. New York: Vintage, p. 267.
- Blackburn (2005), With Billie, p. 268.
- Townsend, Irving. Lady in Satin, Columbia: 1958, original liner notes.
- Blackburn (2005), With Billie, p. 270.
- Lady in Satin at AllMusic
- Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. pp. 104. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
- Larkin, Colin (2007). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
- Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2006) . The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (8th ed.). New York: Penguin. p. 653. ISBN 0-14-102327-9.
- Schaap, Phil. Lady in Satin, Columbia Legacy: 1997, reissue liner notes, p. 15
- Ellis, Ray. Lady in Satin, Columbia Legacy: 1997, reissue liner notes, p. 12.
- Grammy Hall of Fame Archived July 7, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
- Rolling Stone (September 22, 2020). "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- "Billie Holiday Discography.