BILLIE HOLIDAY’S SWEET MISTER THAT CHASED HER DOGGGONE BLUES AWAY

There was a lot of love between Lady Day Billie Holiday and her beloved pooch, Mister. She had other dogs in her lifetime– a Standard Poodle, and pet Chihuahas she bottle fed and whisked around in her pocket– but none as close to her heart as Mister. He was widely thought to be a Boxer, but there are some who disagree saying he was perhaps an American Staffordshire Terrier. One thing is clear, he was a loving and protective companion, and trusted by Holiday above all others– humans included. It’s no wonder these touching photos mean so much to Billie Holiday fans and dog lovers alike. He would chaperone her to the clubs where she performed, and stood watch over her in the backstage dressing room. Billie would sing to Mister, and reward him by cooking him juicy steaks. 100 years after her birth, she is still bedeviling our ears with her sweet, sorrowful tunes and haunting us in pictures. RIP Lady Day, and her sweet Mister.

billie holiday mister

Originally included in a 1949 cover story for Ebony magazine, this photograph shows Holiday at home in her Harlem apartment cooking a steak with her beloved boxer, Mister. The article, titled “I’m Cured for Good,” came after numerous incidents with the law due to Holiday’s ongoing struggle with narcotics. This was the first time Leonard had ever met the singer. “On arriving, I was greeted by a woman in an apron and housedress,” recalled Leonard, “whom I initially mistook for the maid, until I realized she was the great Billie Holiday.” –Photographer Herman Leonard via

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Portrait of Billie Holiday and Mister by William Gottlieb at the Downbeat in New York, Feb. 1947

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DJANGO REINHARDT | THE GYPSY GODFATHER OF HOT JAZZ GUITAR

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If you’re a guitarist, or just an avid fan of music history, you may be aware of two mythical icons who are the equivalent to the Holy Grail of guitar.  In the world of Blues, Robert Johnson imediately comes to mind– legend has it, Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his Blues guitar chops.  And in the world of Jazz guitar, there is no one more revered and influential as the one and only Hot Jazz hero, Django Reinhardt.

Django had only two operable fingers on his fretting hand (he was badly burned in a fire at age 18), which is unbelievable when you listen to the recordings of him noodling up and down the neck.  But it wasn’t the novelty of his playing with two fingers that made him a sensation– Django’s techniques and tone are legendary, and still cited as a major influence by the world’s best guitarists, past and present.  His early and unfortunate passing at the age of 43 yrs old (1910-1953), forever cemented his icon status.

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Gypsy Jazz Guitar virtuoso, Django Reinhardt.  Here you get a good look at his crippled left hand.

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“Django Reinhardt was arguably the greatest guitarist who ever lived, an important influence on Les Paul, Charlie Christian, B.B. King, Jerry Garcia, Chet Atkins, and many others. Handsome, charismatic, childlike, and unpredictable, Reinhardt was a character out of a picaresque novel. Born in a gypsy caravan at a crossroads in Belgium, he was almost killed in a freak fire that burned half of his body and left his left hand twisted into a claw. But with this maimed left hand flying over the frets and his right hand plucking at dizzying speed, Django became Europe’s most famous jazz musician, commanding exorbitant fees—and spending the money as fast as he made it.”

Michael Dregni

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1934, France — Django Reinhardt (1910-1953) and Stephane Grappelli, of the Quintet de Hot Club de France. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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“Amazingly, several of the Gypsy guitarists who came along after Django played with just two fingers in an effort to get the tone he had—guitarists like Jacques Montagne. Even today, players like John Jorgenson or Sam Miltich will every now and then play a song with two fingers for fun, and they are able to do it, but four fingers is certainly better.”

Michael Dregni

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Django Reinhardt, 1942.

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TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | MILES DAVIS

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Trumpeter Miles Davis and saxophonist John Coltrane  performing at Jazz club Cafe Bohemia in New York City, ca. 1956.

Miles Davis and John Coltrane performing at Jazz club Cafe Bohemia in New York City, ca. 1956.

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Miles Davis had style for miles, so to speak…  Yeah, we’re walking a fine line of being tediously cliche, but the fact remains that whatever Miles did — music, women, heroin, dressing — he did it to the fullest. And like a true artist, his style was always evolving, innovative, relevant, and definitely full of surprises. You may not have always understood him, but you could appreciate his artistry.  Sometimes, that’s all a man can ask for.  People may not always appreciate how you go about things, but you can’t be denied if what you deliver at the end of the day is special.  Go ahead and read into that whatever it is you want…

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Miles Davis' style was always very thought out, there were no accidents -- every detail said something about him and was there for a reason.  It's easy to look at this picture and miss the subtle, but very telling, details.  Note-- the absence of a breast pocket on the sportcoat, or buttons on the sleeve, and the rounded club, or penny collar..

Miles Davis' style was always very thought out, there were no accidents -- every detail said something about him, and was there for a reason. It's easy to look at this picture and miss the subtle, but very telling, details. Note-- the absence of a breast pocket on the sportcoat, or buttons on the sleeve. The smooth, uninterrupted lines of the soft, almost invisible drop shoulder, close-notched coat collar, and the rounded club, or penny, shirt collar. It all adds up to a pretty specific look.

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BOB WILLOUGHBY, GREAT AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHER | JAZZ LEGENDS

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Bob Willoughby is a legendary Hollywood photographer whose incredible work includes many now iconic images of Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Fonda, and some of Jazz history’s greatest artists.  Willoughby’s career started out with him on duty as a commissioned Hollywood studio portraitist– and through his sensitive, perfectionistic eye, he created (some say even invented) the art form of photojournalistic motion picture stills.

How ’bout I just shut my pie-hole now, and let you enjoy these stunning images by great American photographer Bob Willoughby…

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Cole Porter in his Beverly Hills home, 1954  --Bob Willoughby

Cole Porter in his Beverly Hills home, 1954 --Bob Willoughby

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Sinatra & frIends (Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin) - Sands sign  --Bob Willoughby

Sinatra & frIends (Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin) - Sands sign --Bob Willoughby

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Chet Baker  --Bob Willoughby

Chet Baker --Bob Willoughby

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A LESSON IN MONK | JAZZ & SNAZZ

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thelonious-monk-monks-musicMONK STRAP SHOE FOOTWEAR

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thelonious monk

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Thelonious Monk is guy who’s music & style you either get or don’t.  In falls in the realm of atonal jazz, which some consider to be not so friendly on the ear at times.  I think it’s brilliant, and invites the listener in to experience the music in a unique and very personal way.  Thelonious played with such reckless beauty, and his phrasing was at times more suggestive than literal– I swear, sometimes I hear notes that aren’t even there.  He composed around 70 original pieces and recorded them over and over, so it’s possible to have a huge collection of different arrangements with different flavors.

His personal style of dress also had a lot of savory flavor–

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