Them There Eyes

by mikeconklinmusic

Billie Holiday (1915 - 1949)

Today marks the 72nd anniversary of Billie Holiday’s recording of  “Them There Eyes” (W24879-Vocalion / OKeh 5021) for the Vocalion label.

“Them There Eyes” was written by Maceo Pinkard, Doris Tauber, and William Tracey. It was published in 1930 with one of the earliest recorded versions done by Louis Armstrong in 1931.  It was Holiday’s version, however, that truly made the song a hit.

The tune is a exemplary of Holiday’s time spent, not as a torch singer but, as jump singer. The year was 1939 and her star was ascendant. Since her first recording date with the Benny Goodman Orchestra in 1934, Holiday worked with Ellington in 1935 and fronted bands of such leaders Teddy Wilson and Count Basie.

As was typical in the Swing Era, the song, in this case a fox-trot, is a vehicle for solo improvisation for the instrumentalists and dancing for the audience.

Here’s the line-up:

Charlie Shavers, trumpet; Tab Smith, soprano and alto sax; Kenneth Hollon, Stanley Payne, tenor sax; Sonny White, piano; Bernard Addison, guitar; John Williams, bass; Eddie Dougherty, drums; Billie Holiday, vocals. New York, July 5, 1939.

Here’s the tune: