Search - Billie Holiday :: Billie's Best

Billie's Best
Billie Holiday
Billie's Best
Genres: Blues, Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #1

This selection is drawn from Billie Holiday's Verve recordings of the mid-1950s. It was a time when her voice was already showing some wear and tear, but the same experiences that tattered the voice brought it an unmatched...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Billie Holiday
Title: Billie's Best
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 6
Label: Polygram Records
Original Release Date: 9/22/1992
Release Date: 9/22/1992
Genres: Blues, Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
Styles: Vocal Blues, Traditional Blues, Swing Jazz, Traditional Jazz & Ragtime, Vocal Jazz, Oldies, Vocal Pop, Classic Vocalists, Traditional Vocal Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 731451394324, 0731451394324

This selection is drawn from Billie Holiday's Verve recordings of the mid-1950s. It was a time when her voice was already showing some wear and tear, but the same experiences that tattered the voice brought it an unmatched expressiveness. Her voice possessed a unique presence, a sound that seems lit up by a resilient vitality. Producer Norman Granz set Holiday among the small jazz combos that suited her talents best, groups that included some of the finest soloists of her generation, such as trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison and saxophonists Benny Carter and Ben Webster. Granz also supplied ideal rhythm sections, with pianist Jimmy Rowles and guitarists Kenny Burrell and Barney Kessel making appearances here. There's more room to stretch out than was available on the early Columbia and Commodore recordings, and the results are relaxed and profound treatments of some great songs. --Stuart Broomer

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Member CD Reviews

LEE K. (koke) from SAINT LOUIS, MO
Reviewed on 5/19/2017...
must have.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Michelle B. (Memphismomma) from MEMPHIS, TN
Reviewed on 8/9/2006...
She rocks!
0 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Ani K. (goddessani) from POULSBO, WA
Reviewed on 7/3/2006...
A must have for any Lady Day enthusiast.
0 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

CD Reviews

This is really her best! or maybe her second best
Tony Thomas | SUNNY ISLES BEACH, FL USA | 02/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is really the best of the great Verve recordings of the 1950s. I will jump out on a limb and say those Verve recordings were surpassed only by the 1930s Columbia/Brunswick sides produced by John Hammond. They work best because like the Hammond sides, Billie here is produced solely as a JAZZ SINGER TOGETHER WITH JAZZ ARTISTS OF HER CALIBER AND OF HER GENERATION, not as a chanteuse, not as a pop singer, and not as an R & B singer, all detours that people who recorded her before and after these sides put her on.The problem is that a lot of people tend to see Billie Holiday's artistry as a tragedy in progress rather than the work of a great singer and musician who did have a few off microphone problems. Billie Holiday died six or 7 years after the last one of these sides. The magic of these recordings has to do with good production, and good art coming out of that and not the question of the decomposition of her personal life. Grantz's predecessors and successor were to attempt to take Billie in a more pop direction which just didn't work. That may have had to do with her "health" problems, but it also probably had to do with the crisis of swing-Jazz at the time. I mean in the mid 1950s you had Duke Ellington playing in third-rate amusement parks until Paul Gonzalves turned everything around at Newport. The Grantz verve sides were Billie's music, all the other stuff, the attempts at being like Dinah Washington, the anticommunist songs, the attempts to take her into jumb blues (Billie always detested being called a blues singer because she was not) and so forth were terrible.In fact, her last efforts like Lady in Satin, remind one of some of the Louis Armstrong band recordings of the 1930s and early 1940s where the magic is the contrast between the swinging soloist and the utterly stiff band and stiffer arrangements.Curiously, before and after her Verve years, the live recordings we have from her Carnegie Concert and Jazz at the Philharmonic and her singing on the Sound of Jazz have the same glow of Jazz. They resemble these sides more than the recordings she was making. Billie's real strength is as a Jazz musician, a contributor to the polyphony of Jazz. These are only part of a whole series of recordings that Verve did in these years. At one time they were all available on LP and Tape. I haven't looked around, but one hopes the whole thing is available. All of these words about Billie needs to be supplemented by some great playing by Ben Webster, Sweets, and other musicians. Much is said about Billie and Prez's collaboration in the 1930s, but on these recordings Mr. Webster recorded as many sides with Billie and developed another darker synergy between the two of them that needs to be listened to. Don't get me wrong, I am a Lester Young fanatic: his framed picture is on my wall and he is the only musician I have ever bought a tee shirt of, LOL. But, the accompaniment and the solos the musicians take here are worth the price alone!

This is a forgotten gem that deserves to shine. My rating for this is anyone with ears needs to own it!"
One Last Grasp at Greatness
Peter | East of Los Angeles | 12/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It's hard to choose 16 songs and call it "Billie's Best", but this set gives an idea of Billie Holiday's great artistry during the last years of her life. Billie is heard throughout backed by a jazz combo or trio, with occasional (not often enough) saxophones by the likes of "Sweets" Edison and Benny Carter. Her sidemen are first rate and they provide maybe the last ounce of inspiration Billie needs during this difficult time in her life. Sadly, her voice is not what it once was, but some numbers come off better than others, and Verve chooses mostly those that she is comfortable with, some dating bak to her early days at Columbia in the 1930s that she remakes here. On a few numbers her voice is barely audible beyond a croak, but determination pulls her thru and she still manages to wring out many emotional performances here. Sound quality is very good."