Sam Cooke – Tribute To The Lady (1959)

FrontCover1Samuel Cook (January 22, 1931 – December 11, 1964), known professionally as Sam Cooke, was an American singer, songwriter, civil-rights activist and entrepreneur.

Influential as a singer, composer, and producer, he is commonly known as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocals and importance within popular music. He began singing as a kid and joined the Soul Stirrers before moving to a solo career where he scored a string of hit songs including “You Send Me”, “A Change Is Gonna Come”, “Cupid”, “Wonderful World”, “Chain Gang”, “Twistin’ the Night Away”, and “Bring It On Home to Me”.

His pioneering contributions to soul music contributed to the rise of Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Billy Preston, and popularized the likes of Otis Redding and James Brown. AllMusic biographer Bruce Eder wrote that Cooke was “the inventor of soul music”, and possessed “an incredible natural singing voice and a smooth, effortless delivery that has never been surpassed”.


On December 11, 1964, at the age of 33, Cooke was shot and killed by Bertha Franklin, the manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California. After an inquest and investigation carried out by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the courts ruled Cooke’s death to be a justifiable homicide. Since that time, the circumstances of his death have been called into question by Cooke’s family.

Tribute to the Lady is the third studio album by American singer-songwriter Sam Cooke, released in 1959. It was recorded in tribute to jazz vocalist Billie Holiday, who died later that year. The backing band is the René Hall Orchestra. (by wikipedia)


An album that’s seldom been seen and disappeared almost as quickly as it was released. Sam Cooke turned these songs inside out with twisting, awesome interpretations. It was one of the few times he was able to break out of the light pop/teen idol bag in a studio and pour his heart into great lyrics and numbers. (Ron Wynn)

Sam “Mr. Soul” Cooke was multi-talented, and his range of songs were from Gospel to Jazz including blues and folk. Here he sings songs made famous by the great Billie Holliday. He does more than justice to them all, and I am sure “Lady Day” felt honored by his rendition of her songs. In the last months of his career and life, you can hear him doing a mixture of songs on “Live at the Copa,” and if you want a real soulful/Gospel oriented album, get the “Live at the Harlem Square Club.” The only live Gospel album is “The Great 1955 Shrine Concert” where he rocked the house (church gathering). I am fortunate to meet and talk with Sam Cook late in 1955 when he was with the Soul Stirrers in my home city of Charleston, SC.


My teenage Gospel group members and I went to see him, and he treated us as if each one of us was special. We were only fourteen and fifteen years old at the time. We saw women – and men – screaming and the women falling out from his powerful singing. When he was murdered, we all felt as if we had lost a big brother. When people visit us, they see so much Sam Cooke paraphernalia that they ask, “Were you related to Sam Cooke?” lol By the way, he added the “e” to his name when he left the Soul Stirrers and the Gospel circuit and went secular in 1957. He was born Samuel Cook. I bought “Tribute to the Lady” as a gift, and my son loves it. I had the vinyl copy back in the 60s. (Caroll L.)


Sam Cooke (vocals)
René Hall Orchestra


01. God Bless The Child (Herzog, Jr.) 2.36
02. She’s Funny That Way (Daniels/Whiting) 1.53
03. I’ve Got A Right To Sing The Blues (Arlen/Koehler) 2.36
04. Good Morning Heartache (Fisher/Drake/Higginbotham) 2.10
05. ‘T’aint Nobody’s Bizness (If I Do) (Grainger/Robbins) 2.28
06. Comes Love (Brown/Stept/Tobias) 2.31
07. Lover Girl (Man) (Davis/Ramirez/Sherman) 2.27
08. Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off (G.Gershwin/I.Gershwin) 2.22
09. Lover Come Back To Me (Romberg/Hammerstein II) 2.14
10. Solitude (Ellington/DeLange/Mills) 2.25
11. They Can’t Take That Away From Me (G.Gershwin/I.Gershwin) 2.34
12. Crazy In Love With You (Benton/Otis) 2.35



Sam Cooke (January 22, 1931 – December 11, 1964)

Billie Holiday With Ray Ellis And His Orchestra – Lady In Satin (1958)

FrontCover1Lady in Satin is an album by 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 BillieHoliday01Hours, 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 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”, “I Only Have Eyes for You” and others. Columbia wanted Holiday to do an album of songs she had never recorded before,[5] 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 Songbooks 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, BillieHoliday05altering 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 forty-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 bebop trombone pioneer J. J. Johnson.

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.”

However, trumpeter Buck Clayton preferred the work of the later Holiday to that of the younger woman that he had often worked with in the 1930s. Ray Ellis said of the album in 1997:

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.” (by wikipedia)


This was Billie Holiday’s penultimate album, recorded when her body was telling her enough was enough. During the sessions with arranger Ray Ellis she was drinking vodka neat, as if it were tap water. Despite her ravaged voice (the sweetness had long gone), she was still an incredible singer. The feeling and tension she manages to put into almost every track set this album as one of her finest achievements. “You’ve Changed” and “I Get Along Without You Very Well” are high art performances from the singer who saw life from the bottom up. (by Rovi Staff)

There are two kinds of Jazz Singers. Billie Holiday and everyone else. And amongst everyone else, there are also two kinds of Jazz singers – those who came before Billie Holiday and those who came after, who are equally cursed and blessed – cursed to live in her shadow and blessed to be able to learn from her craft. And, while the voice wavers here with it ravages, the craft is impeccable. “I’m a Fool to Want You” is enough to make a believer of even the stoniest-hearted cynic. (Seb Nmd)


Mel Davis ( solo trumpet)
Barry Galbraith (guitar)
Urbie Green (solo trombone)
Billie Holiday (vocals)
Milt Hinton (bass)
J.J. Johnson (solo trombone)
Osie Johnson (drums)
Janet Putman (harp)
Mal Waldron (piano)
George Ockner – Emmanual Green Harry Hoffman – Harry Katzmann – Leo Kruczek  – Milton Lomask – Harry Meinikoff – David Newman – Samuel Rand – David Sarcer
Sid Brecher – Richard Dichler
David Soyer – Maurice Brown
Danny Bank – Phil Bodner – Romeo Penque – Tom Parshley
Billy Butterfield – Jimmy Ochner – Bernie Glow
Jack Green – Tommy Mitchell
background vocals:
Elise Bretton – Miriam Workman


01. I’m A Fool To Want You (Sinatra/Herron/Wolf) 3.25
02. For Heaven’s Sake (Bretton/Edwards/Meyer) 3.29
03. You Don’t Know What Love Is (DePaul/Raye) 3.51
04. I Get Along Without You Very Well (Carmichael) 3.02
05. For All We Know (Coots/Lewis) 2.56
06. Violets For Your Furs (Adair/Dennis) 3.27
07. You’ve Changed (Carey/Fischer) 3.20
08. It’s Easy To Remember (Hart/Rodgers) 4.03
09. But Beautiful (Burke/Van Heusen) 4.32
10. Glad To Be Unhappy (Hart/Rodgers) 4.10
11. I’ll Be Around (Wilder) 3.27
12. The End Of A Love Affair (mono only) Redding) 4.52

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”.



Billie Holiday (April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959)

Billie Holiday – Same (Last Recording) (1959)

FrontCover1Last Recording, originally titled Billie Holiday before her death, is the last album of Billie Holiday released in 1959, five years after the original album titled Billie Holiday was released.

After the success of her album, Lady in Satin (1958), Billie Holiday wanted to record another album with arranger Ray Ellis. Ellis had switched from Columbia to MGM, so Billie switched labels also to avoid breaching her contract with Columbia. When she returned to the studio in March 1959, jazz critic and friend of Holiday’s Leonard Feather, said Holiday “walked into the studio statuesque and sharp as ever.”

Unlike Lady in Satin, Billie Holiday had a lighter string orchestra, minus the choir, and more horns, including a saxophone and a more jazz like feeling. It also demand less fanfare. Songs like “All of You”, “‘Deed I Do”, and “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home” have a lighter and happier tempo and do not include strings.

Holiday told Ellis she wanted to “sound like Sinatra” on this album; but she was in such poor health from years of difficulty and substance abuse that a nurse sometimes had to help keep her propped up on a high stool as she sang.


During the time of recording Billie Holiday, Holiday’s health was taking its toll. Some say that she did not look like herself at all, and looked like a ghost of what she once was.

In the song “There’ll Be Some Changes Made”, Holiday replaces the name Jack Benny in the lyric “Even Jack Benny has been changin’ his jokes” to Frank Sinatra, her jazz friend.

The album was completed on March 11, 1959. Four days later, Billie Holiday’s lifelong friend and music partner Lester Young died on March 15, 1959. She would die four months later on July 17, 1959 at the age of 44.

Allmusic music critic Ron Wynn gave the album one and half stars out of five stating, “In many ways, a sad event… It’s poignant in a tragic way.”


By 1959, use of hard drugs and alcohol had taken their toll on Holiday’s voice. It is evident that her voice had deteriorated since her previous album Lady in Satin. Producer and arranger Ray Ellis said that the producers “accidentally” adjusted the speed at 1/4 pitch faster in the studio making Holiday’s voice high pitched in some songs like “You Took Advantage of Me”. (by wikipedia)



Billie Holiday (vocals)
Ray Ellis & His Orchestra:
Danny Bank (Saxophone)
Billy Byers (trombone)
Al Cohn (saxophone)
Harry Edison (trumpet)
Joe Wilder (trumpet)
Barry Galbraith (guitar)
Milt Hinton (bass)
Osie Johnson (drums)
Hank Jones (piano)
unknown string section

Arranged and conducted by Ray Ellis

01. All Of You (Porter) 2.30
02. Sometimes I’m Happy Caesar/Gray/Youmans) 2.46
03. You Took Advantage Of Me (Rodgers/Hart) 2.46
04. When It’s Sleepy Time Down South (L.René/O.René/Muse) 4.04
05. There’ll Be Some Changes Made” – (W. Benton Overstreet, Billy Higgins) – 2:52
06. ‘Deed I Do – (Walter Hirsch, Fred Rose) – 2:14
07. Don’t Worry ’bout Me (Koehler/Bloom) 3.08
08. All The Way (Cahn/van Heusen) .22
09. Just One More Chance (Coslow/Johnston) 3.43
10. It’s Not For Me To Say (Stillman/Allen) 2.25
11. I’ll Never Smile Again (Lowe) 3.23
12. Baby Won’t You Please Come Home (Warfield/Williams) 3.03




Taken from the original liner notes

Billie Holiday (April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959)

Various Artists – Silent Night, Jazzy Night (2001)

FrontCover1It´s christmas time again … and I will start with some special recordings, christmas records, of course !

And I have a dream for this christmas, a very old dream, the dream of Martin Luther King:

“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

MartinLutherKingI have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!”

And this ist not an american dream only … I wish all readers of this blog a peaceful December 2013.

And listen carefully to some great Jazz interpretations of all these old christmas songs !

01. Duke Ellington & His Orchestra: Jingle Bells (alternate version) (1962) (Traditional) 3.19
02. Leon Parker: In A Sentimental Mood (1996) (Ellington) 4.39
03. Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) (1986) (Trome/Wells) 3.11
04. Johnnie Ray: As Time Goes By (1954) (Hupfeld) 3.14
05. Mahalia Jackson: Silent Night, Holy Night (1962) (Gruber/Mohr) 5.04
06. Miles Davis & Gil Evans: Blue Xmas (master) (Dorough) 2.40
07. Glenn Miller Orchestra: Moonlight Serenade (1960) (Miller/Parish) 3.39
08. Billie Holiday: God Bless The Child (1941) (Holiday/Herzog) 2.56
09. Grover Washington Jr:. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (1997) (Martin/Blane) 4.53
10. Chet Baker: I Married An Angel (1954) (Hart/Rodgers) 3.39
11. The Manhattan Transfer: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town/ Santa Man (1991)(Gillespie/Coots/Paul) 3.01
12. Aretha Franklin: Winter Wonderland (1964) (Smith/Bernard) 2.12
13. Mel Tormé: Strangers In The Night (1966) (Kaempfert/Snyder/Singleton) 2.41