The complete memorable recordings made by Billie Holiday in 1956-57 backed by a small group including Ben Webster, Harry Edison, Jimmy Rowles and Barney Kessel. A complete Holiday set recorded at Newport during the same period has been added as a bonus. Includes 16-page booklet.
This is a rather incredible collection: ten CDs enclosed in a tight black box that includes every one of the recordings Verve owns of Billie Holiday, not only the many studio recordings of 1952-57 (which feature Lady Day joined by such jazz all-stars as trumpeters Charlie Shavers and Harry "Sweets" Edison, altoist Benny Carter, and the tenors of Flip Phillips, Paul Quinichette and Ben Webster). Also included are prime performances at Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts in 1945-1947, an enjoyable European gig from 1954, her "comeback" Carnegie Hall concert of 1956, Holiday's rather sad final studio album from 1959, and even lengthy tapes from two informal rehearsals. It's a perfect purchase for the true Billie Holiday fanatic.
This compilation, gathered from recordings of her New York sessions in 1954, is an excellent sampler of the skills and charms of Lady Day. While the disc may appear to be just another throw-together of Holiday hits, with nothing in particular to distinguish it from the others, the arrangements, the performances and the recordings themselves are all wonderful. Backed by tight, laid-back session musicians (Oscar Peterson plays piano on many of the tracks–check out his solo on "Lover, Come Back to Me"), Holiday here enjoys the last full flush of her talents before health and substance abuse problems claimed her voice in the late '50s.