Trav’lin’ Light (m. James R. Mundy and Trummy Young, w. Johnny Mercer) – It’s clear that Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics, but there is disagreement among authorities as to who wrote the music, as follows:
- ASCAP ACE Title Search Database: James R. Mundy, James Oliver Young, Johnny Mercer (composers and lyricists are not separated in this catalog)
- Johnnymercer.com — music: Jimmy Mundy and Trummy Young
- Jazzstandards.com — m. James R. Mundy
- Billieholidaysongs.com — m. Trummy Young
- Wikipedia – m. Trummy Young and Jimmy Mundy
The 1942 session which introduced the song was Holiday’s last before the 1942-44 musician’s strike and recording ban.
Billie Holiday — Session #47, Los Angeles, 12 June 1942 — Paul Whiteman & his Orchestra: Monty Kelly, Larry Neill, Don Waddilove (tp), Skip Layton, Murray McEachern, Trummy Young (tb), Alvy West, Dan D’Andrea, Lennie Hartman, Lester Young (Reeds) Buddy Weed (p) Mike Pingitore(g) Artie Shapiro (b) Willie Rodriguez (d), Unknown string section, Billie Holiday (v) Jimmy Mundy (arr) Paul Whiteman (conductor)
Of this recording reviewer Stuart Nicholson at jazz.com wrote:
This one-off recording with Paul Whiteman on the West Coast is a reminder of what an experienced big band singer Billie Holiday was. She had appeared on film with Duke Ellington’s orchestra, was a member of Ralph Cooper’s big band, played a series of dates with the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra, appeared briefly with Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra, was a member of the Count Basie orchestra for almost a year, was with Artie Shaw’s orchestra for almost as long and had guested with Benny Goodman’s big band on radio by the time she recorded this neglected classic. The wonderfully languorous muted trombone of Skip Layton sets the mood for Holiday’s masterful vocal that follows. A good microphone picks up her voice at its peak and the way she subtly alters the melody and brings expressive weight to the lyric content is a great exposition of less-is-more. The lyrics tell a story of being unlucky in love, which was consistent with the character part that was now her nightclub persona. The tonal contrast of strings brings Holiday’s voice into sharp relief and touched an Achilles heel; the next time she recorded for a big record label she wanted strings.
Billie Holiday: Session #75, New York, 6 June 1956 — Billie Holiday with Tony Scott & his Orchestra (Verve): Charlie Shavers (tp) Tony Scott (cl) Paul Quinichette (ts) Wynton Kelly (p) Kenny Burrell (g) Aaron Bell (b) Lennie Mc Browne (d) Billie Holiday (v)
Once again in New York, Norman Granz gathers an ensemble that was not used to work together. Tony Scott does the arrangements. Billie’s voice is rough and worn out. The tempo is kept slow maybe to preserve Billie but, oddly, there aren’t solos in the session. The three first tracks are remakes from 1930’s classics. However, this session flows very well, or, better yet, it flows wonderfully.
Following her appearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival in October 1958 Billie Holiday embarked on a European tour. It was, says billieholidaysongs.com, her second longest. After a disastrous tour leg in Milan she traveled to Paris for two live sessions. The first of these was broadcast on a French television show called Music Hall Parade (acc. to billieholidaysongs.com).
Billie Holiday — Live Session #65, television broadcast, Paris, France, 18 November 1958 — Mal Waldron (p), Michel Gaudry (b), Unknown (d), Billie Holiday (voc)
Chet Baker - instrumental, the 13th and final track of Baker’s LP Embraceable You, 1957
Chet Baker: trumpet
David Wheat, guitar
Ross Savakus, bass
Lorez Alexandria — from her 1962 LP Deep Roots
musicians for the sessions: Howard McGhee: trumpet, John Young: piano, George Eskridge: guitar, Israel Crosby: bass, Vernel Fournier: drums
Anita O’Day – from the documentary DVD Live in Tokyo ’63
Ella Fitzgerald - from Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Johnny Mercer Songbook, recorded 19-21 October 1964, arranged by Nelson Riddle
- Ella Fitzgerald: vocals
- Paul Smith: piano
- Plas Johnson: tenor sax
- Willy Smith: alto sax
- Buddy DeFranco: clarinet
- Frank Flynn: vibes
Chet Baker – from Baker’s Holiday, 1965
A colorful review of the album at Amazon.com says,
Don’t listen to the reviewer below. (Phew!! Some people!!) Chet always sang a little flat. That was his style. People either love his voice or hate it.
This is mostly an undiscovered treasure from Chet Baker. Chet made a lot of bad and questionable recordings. THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM. This is one of his least known and more romantic recordings. And I know that’s what your looking for. Why else would you be searching out Chet’s music? His vocals never sounded better. In 1964, Chet had just returned from Europe after being expelled from almost every country and was a full-blown junkie. But you’d never know it by listening to BAKER’S HOLIDAY. In 1965, this record immediately followed BABY BREEZE (another great record) and didn’t sell well. But Baker had a new romance in his life as he began to slowly abandon his third marriage. He must have been in love because this recording just drips ROMANTIC COOL, as well as being a great tribute to Lady Day. Chet sings on 4 tunes here and plays flugelhorn (because someone stole his trumpet) over guitar, piano, rhythm section, and a lovely reed ensemble. The elegant song selections couldn’t be better. And to top it all off, it’s got just the right amount of SWING!!
Zoot Sims – from the album For Lady Day, record 10-11 April 1978 — Zoot Sims: tenor sax, Jimmy Rowles: piano, George Mraz: bass, Jackie Williams: drums
Remix: Caned & Able, featuring Billie Holiday – date unknown