Stories » Lara Downes - A Billie Holiday Songbook / WQXR: Album Of the Week

Top 10 for Mar

Lara Downes - A Billie Holiday Songbook / WQXR: Album Of the Week

Bookmark and Share

Few classically-trained pianists have successfully straddled the jazz-classical divide while keeping fans of both genres at least reasonably satisfied. André Previn is one. Of a younger generation, Kirill Gerstein shows similar promise. Lara Downes makes a convincing case in a new tribute album to Billie Holiday, the legendary singer who was born 100 years ago this Tuesday, April 7, with 22 tunes that the singer made famous.

While the jazz community has shown a particular interest in the Holiday centennial, Downes brings a different perspective through arrangements by Jed Distler. She doesn't attempt to hide her classical roots, making full use of the rich tone and colors of her Steinway in ballads including "Lover Man," "I Wished on the Moon," and "I'll Be Seeing You." There are a couple of swinging numbers too, plus an elegantly bluesy rendition of "God Bless the Child" and a bittersweet take on "I Cover The Waterfront."

For more about Holiday's complex life and music, our colleagues at The Jonathan Channel are celebrating the singer with songs and stories throughout April. Lara Downes - A Billie Holiday Songbook / WQXR: Album Of the Week.