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Night and Day: 1947

Night and Day: 1947

"Portrait of Billie Holiday at the Downbeat club, New York, ca. February 1947." Medium format negative by William Gottlieb. View full size.

        I especially tried to capture personality, but that's an elusive quality, and I was successful only a portion of the time. But I certainly hit it on the button here with a picture of Billie Holiday, whose voice was filled with anguish. I also tried to catch the beauty of her face -- she was at her most beautiful at that particular time, which was not too long after she had come out of prison on a drug charge. She couldn't get at any drugs while she was incarcerated, or alcohol, and she lost weight and she came out looking gorgeous, and her voice was, I think, at its peak. And I was fortunate enough to have spent some time with her during that period, and I caught this close-up of her in a way that you could really see the anguish that must have been coming out of her throat.

-- William Gottlieb, 1997


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If I could only listen to one musician/group for the remainder of my life, it would be Billie Holiday.

Gotta wonder ...

what patrons at the Downbeat Club thought when they saw that bruise (?) on her arm. Love the old jazz singers and instrumentalists, but I have to wonder whether too much of that beautiful music was caused, so to speak, by bruises like that.

Party Bill

I naively thought that William Gottlieb only took sedate pictures of boutiques and modernist houses. This recent series of jazz singers and 52nd Street scenes shows a whole other side of him. He had his finger on the pulse of the city!

[You're confusing Sam Gottscho with Bill Gottlieb. - Dave]

Gee, you're right, sorry! Although there was a rumor Sam liked an occasional sarsaparilla.

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