Billie Holiday signed concert programme and other jazz autographs

I was very pleased to pick-up a jazz collection last week. It consists of three multi-signed programmes and a number of unsigned programmes and concert tickets from the very late 1940s and early to mid-1950s. All had been collected by a passionate jazz fan. He was born in 1929 and attended very many jazz concerts held in his home town of Basel. He also helped set up a jazz club in Basel that is apparently still running today.

The signed programme that really stands out is signed by Billie Holiday and many other artists appearing at a "Jazz Club USA" concert in Basel on 4 February 1954. The "next best" programme is from a "Jazz at the Philharmonic" concert held in Basel on 12 March 1953. Most of the artists appearing have signed it. These include Ella Fitzgerald and Lester Young. The final signed programme is from a "The ***** Swing Stars" (I have left out what is now an unacceptable term) concert featuring Bill Coleman, Dicky Wells and others. The concert was held in Basel on a 6 December but I'm not sure of the year

I will include a list of the artists who have signed the last two programmes at the foot of this post. If anyone wants me to post the signatures and images of the unsigned programmes and tickets I'd be happy to.

Holiday programme

It is quite a miracle that this programme has survived in good condition, being a rather flimsy 4-sided affair. It is roughly A4 size.

I'm no expert on jazz autographs but I'm pretty confident that all the autographs on the Holiday programme are genuine. I would appreciate any feedback on authenticity. I would also appreciate help in identifying the two signatures that are not associated with a pictured artist (Eugene.... and Jimmy.....).

What I particularly like about the programme is that no less than three female artists have signed it, Holiday's name is given as Holyday and the Holiday part of the concert is actually available on CD. I'm still waiting for the CD to arrive but I know the track list is slightly different to the one given in the programme.

Here are all four pages of the programme and a close-up of the Holiday autograph:

Front cover

Inside front cover

Inside back cover

Back cover

Holiday close-up

List of autographs from the other programmes

Ella Fitzgerald

Lester Young

Charlie Shavers

Barney Kessel

Gene Krupa

Ray Brown

J.C. Heard

Bill Coleman

Alvin "Buddy" Banks

Randy "Wray" Downes

Dicky Wells

Arthur "Zutty" Singleton

Guy Lafitte

Example unsigned programmes

Louis Armstrong, Basel, October 1949 and November 1952

Nat King Cole, Basel, October 1950

Benny Goodman, Basel, May 1950

Humphrey Lyttleton, Basel, April 1952

Sidney Bechet, Basel, May 1952 and February 1953


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One word:  WOW !

Thanks for sharing & congrats!

yes, where did you find it Eva?  smashing item

Thanks for the question Michelle. I found the collection on a Swiss-based on-line auction site. The Holiday programme was auctioned separately from the rest of the collection. Both auction lots were open for bidding until the close. I was lucky that other interest was fairly modest in both cases.

Wow is the bird!!!

The Holiday signature is authentic as is the entire signed program. It is absolutely wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for all your kind comments and opinions on authenticity.

Can anyone help me in identifying the two signatures that are not associated with a pictured artist (Eugene.... and Jimmy.....) and in deciphering the last word "Eugene" has written ("God bless this young lady '......').

I'm still waiting for the CD by the way....

Eugene Wright? He was in fact a jazz bassist in that era.

No idea on the last word.  Could it be 'Smile' ?

There was a jazz guitarist in that era named Jimmy Raney.

Wow! Thank you JK! According to Wikipedia both Eugene Wright and Jimmy Raney played with Buddy de Franco so I assume you must be spot on with both. 

As for the Wright inscription, I'm really not sure. Maybe it doesn't actually say God Bless at all. Could even be Blues. Here is a close-up of the whole thing:


At the risk of making a meal of this, I think Jimmy Raney was probably playing with Red Norvo at the time of this concert. Either way JK, you must be right.



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