Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Lady Sings the Blues: The Billie Holiday Story, Vol.4
Genres: Blues, Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
This CD includes material from two fine small-group sessions recorded in 1955 and '56, with arrangements provided by clarinetist Tony Scott and excellent support from trumpeter Charlie Shavers, tenorist Budd Johnson, and a... more »
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This CD includes material from two fine small-group sessions recorded in 1955 and '56, with arrangements provided by clarinetist Tony Scott and excellent support from trumpeter Charlie Shavers, tenorist Budd Johnson, and a young Kenny Burrell on guitar. The standards of the first session come alive with Holiday's ability to bring complex shadings to familiar material, while the later session includes some of her most personal and emotionally charged material. Her voice has a searing intensity on the late recording of "Strange Fruit," and there are powerful versions of "God Bless the Child" and "Lady Sings the Blues," songs written with Holiday's own lyrics. The CD concludes with an intimate view of Lady Day at work, a 15-minute rehearsal tape of her working through "God Bless the Child" with Scott at the piano. --Stuart Broomer
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Dale Perkins | 07/13/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"While I love Billie, in her own words, these sessions were dull, and uninspired. Since the reviews should focus on one CD, that is the jist of it; boring renditions, and back up musicians that are not the ones that Billie was used to making for a very uneven collection."
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 05/28/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I would have to take strong exception to the notion that Billie's late period is her best. She gets so much emotion out of a song that the added "drama" of her increasingly troubled life and waning pipes becomes, at best, superfluous and, at worst, a distraction. Nevertheless, this 1956 collection, one of Verve's "Desert Island Discs," has much to offer, particularly her singularly affecting interpretation of Dorothy Parker's "I Wished on the Moon" (taken at a slower tempo than on her other recordings and with the inclusion of the song's verse). But at over 117 minutes (How did Verve pull that off? Aren't non-compressed CD's limited to 80 minutes?), the program begins to run out of steam. The "arrangements" are quickly-sketched heads by Tony Scott, whose clarinet becomes cloying and overly-busy at times (especially when he insists on improvising during Billie's singing). Tempos and voicings become pretty predictable, though there are some sparkling solos by pianist Billy Taylor as well as trumpeter Charlie Shavers.The photos of Billie shot during the session capture a different side of her--neither the glamorous Lady Day of the past nor the mummified, cosmetic beauty of her "Lady in Satin" album but the hard, yet very "natural," look of a harried, tired school teacher who still, somehow, suggests that she means business.The real kicker on this CD is the inclusion of the 15-minute rehearsal tape (made on a cheap home machine) of Scott and Billie going over (and over and over) "God Bless the Child" in search of a key and arrangement that the singer can assent to. What surprised me was Billie's strength and command. Even though the first key is a fifth above the one that is finally settled on, she executes the upper-register notes in the higher key with surprising ease and power. Moreover, she lays to rest the misconception (admittedly, shared by me) that her voice during this period was largely a whisper salvaged by the microphone. Not only does she project the song; she practically belts it!"
Lady Day's Best Work Despite The Bad Times She Had
Alexander M. Zamora | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 01/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are two schools of fans when it comes to Lady Day :(1) fans who loved her voice when she was strong and brilliant, resounding with a fine vibratto before the drugs came into play and (2) the post-drug Holiday who still can swing and jazz the songs up fine and dandy, even singing songs that are heartbreaking to her. I belong to the second. Holiday has a brilliant touch in singing jazz, blues and, yes, even love songs. Her brilliance shines so strongly in this CD that you can feel every beat of her heart that saw rough times. I have never heard a better version of P.S. I Love You or I Thought About You. Aside from the wonderful interpretation brought by her, the CD quality sound of the songs brings her voice alive and well. Lady Day deserves to be heard by her fans, especially those who love to hear her swing or cry about this thing called love."