Afterglow Jazz and American Popular Song

Billy Eckstine: The Roulette Years

Billy Eckstine made three stellar LPs for Roulette-a standards outing with Billy May, a blues excursion with Count Basie, and a knockout live Las Vegas concert.

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1960 Billy Eckstine

Photo: Album cover art

Music from the singer's brief but notable stay on the Roulette label.

Perhaps this Afterglow show would be better titled “The Roulette Year,” as singer Billy Eckstine did not stay with the label for very long.

But in his brief time at Roulette, the so-called “Sepia Sinatra” made three stellar albums that add up to a compelling chapter in his long career–an LP of standards with arranger/bandleader Billy May, a blues excursion with Count Basie, and a knockout live performance in Las Vegas circa 1960.

Though the racial climate of mid-20th-century America limited Eckstine’s success (effectively torpedoing any sort of movie career, for example), “Mr. B” (a man of several monikers) ranks as one of the most smoothly elegant singers in post-World War II popular song.

We’ll also hear recordings from Eckstine’s Roulette label-mates Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington.

Music Heard On This Episode

Prelude to a Kiss/I'm Beginning to See the Light
Billy Eckstine — No Cover, No Minimum (Roulette/Blue Note, 1960)
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Prelude to a Kiss/I'm Beginning to See the Light
Billy Eckstine — No Cover, No Minimum (Roulette/Blue Note, 1960)
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Once More With Feeling
Billy Eckstine — Once More With Feeling (Roulette/Blue Note, 1960)
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All Right, OK, You Win
Billy Eckstine — No Cover, No Minimum (Roulette/Blue Note, 1960)
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Blues, You're the Mother of Sin
Billy Eckstine/Count Basie — Basie/Eckstine Inc. (Roulette/Blue Note, 1959)
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I'm Gonna Laugh You Out of My Life
Sarah Vaughan — The Divine One (Roulette, 1961)
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A Taste of Honey
Sarah Vaughan — Sarah Sings Soulfully (Roulette/Blue Note, 1963)
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Blues in the Night
Billy Eckstine — Once More With Feeling (Roulette/Blue Note, 1960)
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Till There Was You
Billy Eckstine — No Cover, No Minimum (Roulette/Blue Note, 1960)
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That Old Black Magic
Billy Eckstine — Once More With Feeling (Roulette/Blue Note, 1960)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

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Lonesome Lover Blues
Billy Eckstine/Count Basie — Basie-Eckstine Inc. (Roulette/Blue Note, 1959)
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Drifting
Billy Eckstine/Count Basie — Basie-Eckstine Inc. (Roulette/Blue Note, 1959)
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Take Me In Your Arms
Dinah Washington — Dinah '63 (Roulette, 1963)
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A Stranger On This Earth
Dinah Washington — Ballads (Roulette/Blue Note, 2002)
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Travelin' All Alone
Billy Eckstine/Count Basie — Basie-Eckstine Inc. (Roulette/Blue Note, 1959)
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Deed I Do
Billy Eckstine — No Cover, No Minimum (Roulette/Blue Note, 1960)
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Secret Love
Billy Eckstine — Once More With Feeling (Roulette/Blue Note, 1959)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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  • http://afterglowjazz claudette legare

    am so pleased to find this website…all the music i love!

  • david gerstel

    love the themed programs. wonderful music and comments. thank you

  • david gerstel

    love the themed programs. wonderful music and comments. thank you

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