Billie Holiday

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Here at the Verve Music Group we are fortunate and honored to have so many of Billie Holiday's classic recordings in our jazz catalog. Billie's recordings from Commodore, Decca, and Verve all reside here.

Billie Holiday (1915-59) was one of jazz’s greatest song stylists. Her ability to make a song her own by imposing her personality on it in an era when most singers remained faithful to
the composer’s lead sheet anticipated many vocalists as stylistically diverse as Frank Sinatra and, in a later generation, Joni Mitchell.

She was born Eleanora Harris in Philadelphia to teenage parents. Her mother, Sadie Harris,
raised her in Baltimore while working as a domestic servant. Her father, Clarence Holiday,
was a professional musician who visited her on occasion but wasn’t around much while she was growing up. She was a problem child with constant truancy problems, and at the age
of nine she was sent to a Catholic home for wayward girls for several months.

When she was in her middle teens she moved to New York. She changed her name to
Billie Holiday in the late 1920s when she was working one of her first club jobs.
Louis Armstrong was an inevitable early influence, as was Bessie Smith, but by the
time she first recorded she sounded like no one else.

In 1933 John Hammond, a wealthy jazz lover with record company connections,
produced her first record date. By 1935 she had become a regular in a series of informal
recording sessions organized by Hammond and pianist Teddy Wilson, using leading
players and singers from whatever big bands were in town. By the following year she
had begun to record under her own name as well. She did brief stints with the big bands
of Count Basie (1938) and Artie Shaw (1939), but band singing didn’t suit her temperament.
More important to her career development was an engagement in 1939 at Café Society,
one of the first integrated nightclubs in New York. She attracted a sophisticated crowd
that was affluent and politically liberal — the perfect setting for her to introduce "Strange Fruit", an anti-lynching song a generation ahead of the protest hits of the Vietnam War
era. It became a signature piece for her, but it also signified a change in artistic direction
in another way. On her earlier recordings, Holiday had been used much like a horn, taking her solo after the opening instrumental chorus. Now the instrumental and vocal roles were reversed, with an occasional brief horn or piano solo in the middle of her vocal performance.

In 1943 Holiday signed a contract with Decca Records, The resulting recordings were more
pop-oriented then her previous output, surrounding her with large string-laden orchestras.
This period marked her peak as a vocalist from a commercial point of view. Unfortunately, her drug use and unstable love relationships were beginning to undermine her career, stunting her chances of broad acceptance. And many jazz aficionados longed for her to return to making the type of jazz-oriented records she had made in the 1930s.

In 1952 Holiday began a five-year association on record with jazz impresario Norman Granz, who put her in the studio with compatible musicians, often from his Jazz at the Philharmonic troupe. By now her voice was showing wear and tear from the years of hard living, but her true talent had always had been in the filtering of a song through her personality and experience, and plenty of both show through in the series of recordings she made for Granz.

In early 1958 Holiday recorded the album Lady in Satin with Ray Ellis’s orchestra. Her
voice was almost completely gone, but expressively the album is one of her finest. Holiday’s
health continued to decline, and in the spring of 1959 she was taken to a hospital for treatment of cirrhosis of the liver and malnutrition. Five days before her death she was arrested in her hospital bed on narcotics charges.

The facts of Billie Holiday’s life are tragic to say the least, but in her recordings she
made art out of that life.

Phil Bailey

Excerpted from Ken Burns’ Jazz: The Definitive Billie Holiday (Verve)

(Photo credits: The Verve Music Group)


Classic Lady Day

copertina album

CD album
Universal Music
UPC 00600753789780

Supporto 1
1 East Of The Sun (West Of The Moon)
02:53 Billie Holiday
2 Blue Moon
03:25 Billie Holiday
3 You Go To My Head
02:53 Billie Holiday
4 You Turned The Tables On Me
03:25 Billie Holiday
5 Easy To Love
02:58 Billie Holiday
6 These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You)
03:35 Billie Holiday
7 I Only Have Eyes For You
02:50 Billie Holiday
8 Solitude
03:25 Billie Holiday
9 Everything I Have Is Yours ("Billie Holiday" 10'' Version)
03:45 Billie Holiday
10 Love For Sale
02:52 Billie Holiday
11 Moonglow
02:58 Billie Holiday
12 Tenderly
03:20 Billie Holiday
Supporto 2
1 If The Moon Turns Green
02:44 Billie Holiday
2 Remember
02:34 Billie Holiday
3 Autumn In New York
03:41 Billie Holiday
4 My Man
02:35 Billie Holiday
5 Lover, Come Back To Me
03:34 Billie Holiday
6 Stormy Weather
03:41 Billie Holiday
7 Yesterdays
02:50 Billie Holiday
8 He's Funny That Way
03:14 Billie Holiday
9 I Can't Face The Music
03:14 Billie Holiday
10 How Deep Is The Ocean?
02:57 Billie Holiday
11 What A Little Moonlight Can Do
03:11 Billie Holiday
12 I Cried For You
02:27 Billie Holiday
Supporto 3
1 Prelude To A Kiss
05:35 Billie Holiday
2 When Your Lover Has Gone
04:58 Billie Holiday
3 Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
04:19 Billie Holiday
4 Nice Work If You Can Get It
03:50 Billie Holiday
5 I've Got A Right To Sing The Blues
05:49 Billie Holiday
6 What's New
04:16 Billie Holiday
7 I Hadn't Anyone Till You
04:02 Billie Holiday
8 Everything I Have Is Yours ("Velvet Mood" Version)
04:29 Billie Holiday
Supporto 4
1 Lady Sings The Blues
03:44 Billie Holiday
2 Trav'lin Light (Album Version)
03:09 Billie Holiday
3 I Must Have That Man!
03:04 Billie Holiday
4 Some Other Spring
03:35 Billie Holiday
5 Strange Fruit
03:01 Billie Holiday
6 No Good Man
03:18 Billie Holiday
7 God Bless The Child
03:59 Billie Holiday
8 Good Morning Heartache
03:28 Billie Holiday
9 Love Me Or Leave Me
02:33 Billie Holiday
10 Too Marvelous For Words
02:11 Billie Holiday
11 Willow Weep For Me
03:06 Billie Holiday
12 I Thought About You
02:46 Billie Holiday
Supporto 5
1 Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me ("All Of Nothing At All" Version)
04:12 Billie Holiday
2 Cheek To Cheek
03:35 Billie Holiday
3 Ill Wind
06:15 Billie Holiday
4 Speak Low
04:27 Billie Holiday
5 I Wished On The Moon ("All Of Nothing At All" Version)
03:25 Billie Holiday
6 But Not For Me
03:48 Billie Holiday
7 All Or Nothing At All
05:39 Billie Holiday
8 We'll Be Together Again
04:22 Billie Holiday
9 Sophisticated Lady
04:48 Billie Holiday
10 April In Paris
03:02 Billie Holiday
11 Say It Isn't So ("All Of Nothing At All" Version)
03:15 Billie Holiday
12 Love Is Here To Stay
03:41 Billie Holiday


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