Billie Holiday: Lady Day: The Master Takes and Singles & Rare Live Recordings 1934-1959
The earliest 11 sides on Lady Day, a quartet box of discs taken from the Grammy Award-winning 10-CD box of 2001, are among the many cuts with pianist Teddy Wilson's orchestra. Only 20 years old at the time, the easy assurance with which Holiday tosses off "I Wished On The Moon" would be impressive at any age. When that segues into swinging renditions of "What A Little Moonlight Can Do" and "Miss Brown To You," she's flying high. It's no surprise that these and many others from this period became standards; these early renditions have a special vitality.
Among the giants on those first 1935 sides are trumpeter Roy Eldridge, saxophonist Ben Webster, bassist John Kirby and drummer Cozy Cole. Such greats as Chu Berry, Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Artie Shaw, Benny Carter and more played on some of these 80 commercial singles, issued from 1935-1942, from Holiday's Brunswick, Vocalion, Columbia and Okeh stints, often called her "formative years." Formative, shmorative. She's an artist in full command. Two landmarks were recorded at the same Jan. 25th, 1937 session: "This Year's Kisses" and "I Must Have That Man." The sweetness of her young voice, her timing and sense of rhythm radiate sheer joy in singing. Among those backing her is Buck Clayton (trumpet), Lester Young (tenor saxophone) and Freddie Green (guitar), each who had enduring professional and sometimes rocky personal relationships with her until her death in 1959.
Rare Live Recordings 1934-1959 covers Holiday's career from those sweet-voiced early years to almost her very end when life had done its damage. Many were made under primitive conditions and yet one can only marvel at the incredibly high level of artistry evidenced throughout. Whether singing with Count Basie in 1937 at the Savoy Ballroom or with Hot Lips Page at the Apollo in 1945, it's all peerlessly swinging blues. If she doesn't break your heart with "My Man," it's time to call the morgue.
Before launching into an impromptu version of "Fine and Mellow" for a 1957 television program, The Sound of Jazz, Holiday talks about the blues, observing in a world-weary voice, "I don't think I ever sing a song the same way twice... Anything I do sing is a part of my life." Backing her are all mega-stars including Roy Eldridge, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Count Basie, Freddie Green and Gerry Mulligan.
The final disc, mostly from her final year, includes rehearsals with pianist Jimmy Rowles and bassist Artie Shapiro. If questionably sober, her timing remains faultless and engrossingly imaginative. It's a fascinating opportunity to hear how she's "wracking her brains" to work out what she wants to do with "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good."
Many songs are heard in different versions throughout the years. The subtlety of her shifts in emphasis and tempo demonstrate her ability to bring out different colors in the same songs constantly. The dozens of rarities are documented in well-annotated booklets. This collection is absolutely essential.
Tracks and Personnel
Lady DayThe Master Takes and Singles
Tracks: CD1: I Wished On The Moon; What A Little Moonlight Can Do; Miss Brown To You; If You Were Mine; These 'n' That 'n' Those; You Let Me Down; Spreadin' Rhythm Around; Life Begins When You're In Love; It's Like Reaching For The Moon; These Foolish Things; I Cried For You; Did I Remember?; No Regrets; Summertime; Billie's Blues; A Fine Romance; One, Two, Button Your Shoe; Easy To Love; The Way You Look Tonight; Pennies From Heaven. CD2: That's Life I Guess; I Can't Give You Anything But Love; I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm; He Ain't Got Rhythm; This Year's Kisses; Why Was I Born?; I Must Have That Man; The Mood That I'm In; You Showed Me The Way; My Last Affair; Moanin' Low; Where Is The Sun?; Let's Call The Whole Thing Off; They Can't Take That Away From Me; Don't Know If I'm Comin' or Goin'; I'll Get By; Mena To Me; Foolin' Myself; Easy Living; I'll Never Be the Same. CD3: Me, Myself, And I; A Sailboat In The Moonlight; Without Your Love; Trav'lin' All Alone; He's Funny That Way; Nice Work If You Can Get It; Things Are Looking Up; My Man; Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man; When You're Smiling; On The Sentimental Side; When A Woman Loves A Man; You Go To My Head; I'm Gonna Lock My Heart; The Very Thought Of You; I Can't Get Started; More Than You Know; Sugar; Long Gone Blues; Some Other Spring. CD4: Them There Eyes; Swing, Brother, Swing; Night And Day; The Man I Love; Body And Soul; Falling In Love Again; Laughing At Life; Time On My Hands; St. Louis Blues; Loveless Love; Let's Do It; Georgia On My Mind; All Of Me; God Bless The Child; Am I Blue?; I Cover The Waterfront; Love Me Or Leave Me; Gloomy Sunday; It's A Sin To Tell A Lie; Until The Real Thing Comes Along.
Personnel: Billie Holiday: vocals; with various personnel including Roy Eldridge: trumpet; Benny Goodman: clarinet; Ben Webster: tenor saxophone; John Kirby: bass; Chu Berry: tenor saxophone; Teddy Wilson: piano; Dave Barbour: guitar; Cozy Cole: drums; Johnny Hodges: alto saxophone; Bunny Berigan: trumpet; Artie Shaw: clarinet; Buck Clayton: trumpet; Lester Young: tenor saxophone; Walter Page: bass; Jo Jones: drums; Cootie Williams: trumpet; Freddie Green: guitar.
Rare Live Recordings 1934-1959
Tracks: CD1: Lost My Man Blues; Theme-Moten Swing; Announcer Introduction; Swing Brother Swing; Announcer Introduction; They Can't Take That Away from Me; I Cried For You; Fine and Mellow; Announcer Introduction; I'll Get By; Billie's Blues; Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me; Danny Kaye Introduces Jerome Kern, who presents Billie with her award; I Cover the Waterfront; Fine And Mellow; All of Me; Endy Gets Caught Playing the Piano; Endy Goes to Storyville; Do you Know What It Mean to Miss New Orleans; Satchmo Talks; Farewell to Storyville; Farewell to Storyville (Studio Version); The Blues Are Brewin' (Studio Version); The Man I Love; Miss Brown To You; Lover Man; I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone; Billie's Blues; No More; Good Morning Heartache. CD2: You're Driving Me Crazy; Maybe You'll Be There; Introduction by Donald Wood; You'd Better Go Now; Them There Eyes; Lady Day and Eddie Condon Speak; Keeps On Rainin'; Lady Day and Eddie Condon Speak; Lover Man (Incomplete); I Cover The Waterfront; All Of Me; Narration/Early History; Fine And Mellow; Porgy; Jam Session Introduction; All Of Me; You're My Thrill; Lover Come Back To Me; Ain't Nobody's Business; You're Driving Me Crazy; He's Funny That Way; Miss Brown To You; Lover Man; Them Their Eyes; My Man; I Cover The Waterfront; Crazy He Calls Me; Detour Ahead; Strange Fruit; Ain't Nobody's Business; All Of Me. CD3: Porgy; My Man; Tenderly; God Bless The Child; My Man; Them There Eyes; Lover Man; Willow Weep For Me; I Only Have Eyes For You; My Man; Please, Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone; Jon McCloughland (Introduction); I Cover the Waterfront; Too Marvelous For Words; Porgy; Them There Eyes; Willow Weep for Me; I Only Have Eyes For You; You Go To My Head; Stormy Weather; Ghost of A Chance; Nice Work If You Can Get It; God Bless The Child; Please, Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone; Don't Explain; Porgy. CD4: Fine And Mellow; What A Little Moonlight Can Do; Foolin' Myself; Easy To Remember; Moanin' Low; Don't Explain; When Your Lover Has Gone; Mort Saul (Introduction); Ain't Nobody's Business; Willow Weep For Me; When Your Lover Has Gone; God Bless The Child; I Only Have Eyes For You; Good Morning Heartache; Them There Eyes; Billie's Blues; What A Little Moonlight Can Do; Travelin' Light; Lover Come Back To Me. CD5: I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good; Lady Day SpeaksEarly History); Just Friends; Lady Day SpeaksThe Number 13; Ghost Of A Chance; Please, Don't Talk About Me When I Am Gone1; Everything Happens To Me; Please, Don't Talk About Me When I Am Gone2; I Don't Want To Cry Anymore; Prelude to A Kiss; Jeepers Creepers; My Yiddishe Mama; Hey! Lady's Here; God Bless The Child; Introduction; Nice Work If You Can Get It; Willow Weep For Me; When Your Lover Has Gone; Billie's Blues; Please, Don't Talk About Me When I Am Gone; God Bless The Child; Now Or Never; Ray Charles Comment.
Personnel: Duke Ellington: piano; Arthur Whetsol, Freddy Jenkins, Cootie Williams: trumpet; Joe Nanton, Lawrence Brown, Juan Tizol: trombone; Barney Bigard:clarinet; Johnny Hodges: alto sax; Otto Hardwicke: tenor sax; Harry Carney: baritone sax; Fred Guy: guitar; Wellman Braud: bass; Sonny Greer: drums; Count Basie: piano; Buck Clayton, Booby Moore: trumpet; George Hunt, Dan Minor, Eddie Durham: trombone; Earl Warren: clarinet; Lester Young, Hershel Evans: tenor sax; Jack Washington: baritone sax; Freddie Green:guitar; Walter Page: bass; "Papa" Joe Jones: drums; Floyd Williams: alto; unknown rhythm section; Louis Armstrong; Roy Eldridge:trumpet; Jack Teagarden: trombone; Barney Bigard: clarinet; Coleman Hawkins: tenor sax; Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson: piano; Red Norvo, Lionel Hampton: vibraphone; Al Casey: guitar; Oscar Pettiford: bass; "Big" Sid Catlett: drums; Hot Lips Page; Kid Ory: trombone; Charlie Beal: piano; Bud Scott: guitar; Red Callendar: bass; Zutty Singleton: drums (CD 1); Neal Hefti: trumpet; Herbie Harper: trombone; Herbie Steward: tenor, clarinet; Red Norvo:vibraphone; Jimmy Rowles: piano; Iggy Shevak: bass; Blink Garner: drums; Horace Henderson: piano; Hot Lips Page: trumpet; Edmond Hall:clarinet; Stan Getz: tenor; Buster Harding: paino; John Fields: bass; Marquis Foster: drums (CD 2); Apollo House Band; Carl Drinkard: piano; Jimmy Wood: bass; Paul Littman: drums; Mal Waldron: piano; Milt Hinton: bass; Osie Johnson: drums (CD 3); Roy Eldridge, Emmett Berry, Doc Cheatham: trumpet; Vic Dickerson, Dickie Wells, Frank Rehak: trombone; Earl Warren: alto sax; Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins: tenor sax; Harry Carney, Gerry Mulligan: baritone sax; Count Basie: piano; Freddie Green: guitar; Eddie Jones: bass; "Papa" Joe Jones: drums; Jimmy Rowles: piano; Artie Shaw: bass (CD 4).