Southside Johnny is recording an album of Billie Holiday songs, according to a post on Asbury Jukes saxophonist’s John Isley’s Facebook page.
“I had the distinct pleasure of spending the last week in the studio with this band of miscreants, working on an album I arranged, orchestrated, conducted, contracted, played on and will eventually mix,” wrote Isley. “These guys took my scribblings on the page and turned them into some truly wonderful music. The songs of Billie Holiday, sung by Southside Johnny (FYI – not the album title). Should be out late Spring 2017.”
Isley identified the album’s participants as himself (flute, tenor saxophone, arrangements), Southside Johnny (vocals, harmonica), Chris Anderson (trumpet, flugelhorn), Ronnie Buttacavoli (trumpet, flugelhorn), Neal Pawley (trombone), Allen Won (flute, clarinet, alto saxophone), Ken Hitchcock (alto flute, bass clarinet, baritone saxophone), Glenn Alexander (guitar), Steve Count (bass) and Shawn Pelton (drums).
Southside — who has covered one of Holiday’s signature songs, “God Bless the Child,” in concert — has often talked about her influence on him.
“I never was strictly speaking a solid blues artist, he told Goldmine in 2013. “I always did a lot of R&B. I’m a big fan of Billie Holiday. David Sancious and I would gig prior to the formation of the Jukes. He’d play piano like Billie’s piano man, Teddy Wilson, and I’d try to sing like Billie Holiday.”
“I grew up listening to Count Basie and Jimmy Rushing and the Teddy Wilson Orchestra with Billie Holiday,” he told JazzTimes in 2008. “(My parents) would come home from work and they wouldn’t put on Mantovani, they would put on Billie Holiday. I remember lying in bed when this haunting voice would come up the stairs. It really does affect you when you’re young.”
This will be Southside’s second album devoted to the songs of a single artist. In 2008, he teamed with LaBamba’s Big Band to release Grapefruit Moon: The Songs of Tom Waits.
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