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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Complete Verve Studio Takes, Billie Holiday - Too Marvellous For Words!, 15 Nov 2009
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Complete Verve Studio Master Takes (Audio CD)
After 17 successful years recording with Columbia, during which time she became a major artist and recorded some classic songs, Lady Day moved away, recording some sides with Decca, Commodore and finally signing for the greatest jazz label of the day, Verve.

Presented here are all the master takes of all the tracks recorded for Verve between 1952 and her death in 1959, in chronological order. By the time she signed with Verve Billie's sad decline was already in progress, and her voice had lost some of its youthful power. However, the slightly ragged quality that gradually becomes more and more evident as the set progresses is put to good use as it brings even more emotional intensity to the singing. And she had such a technical mastery of her art that she managed by and large to cover up her declining powers. Several of the tracks recorded for Verve were re-recordings of old Columbia material, it is interesting to compare The earlier recordings, full of youthful exuberance, with the later, world weary takes. Both are great. A particularly emotionally charged set of songs are contained on disc six - these were recorded in her last session just before her death, her decline now painfully obvious, but her determination to go on and the artistry unmistakable.

Verve have done a great job of remastering these tracks and given them the treatment they deserve. They have never sounded better. 6 CDs are presented in a fold out cardboard sleeve, enclosed in a very nice tin. The artwork on the tin and sleeve is very interesting. Included is a good booklet with extensive recording details, a great biography and lots of interesting photos. Definitely a set to get for all fans of Lady Day who want to go a little further than just a standard greatest hits package.

For the really serious fan there is also a ten disc Verve box set of which contains all the extant alternative recordings. There are also collections of her complete Columbia, Decca and Commodore recordings which, I think, will allow you to collect all the recorded work of this most perfect of Jazz singers.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last of Holiday, 4 Oct 2009
This review is from: The Complete Verve Studio Master Takes (Audio CD)
Billie Holiday made the last records of her career for the Verve label between 1952 and 1959. This set has all the master takes of those recordings presented in chronological order of the studio sessions.

The Verve years divide fans into those who see them as the culmination of her life experiences distilled into her recordings and those who see a woman whose voice is shot trying to keep going when she really would be better off stopping. I used to fall into the later category but this set has converted me. It's not until disc 5 that her voice shows signs of wear and it's really only in the last session of all (5 recordings) does she sound too tired to continue. It's a sad end, but there's such a lot of good stuff on the rest of the discs that it doesn't matter.

The packaging is a little odd. Inside the tin there's a sort of concertina effort holding the discs. It's glued at the end to the tin so getting at the CDs is a bit awkward and it doesn't look like it will stand up to much wear and tear. Many people now rip their CDs onto mp3 players so it won't be a problem for them. There's also a booklet which, apart from the session information, doesn't tell us much we didn't know.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crackers, 3 Nov 2012
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This review is from: The Complete Verve Studio Master Takes (Audio CD)
I have never had a set of CDs presented in a cracker tin, nor have I ever had to pull out the six discs inside like a string of sausages. I've had some accompanying booklets, Perfect Bound, that have come apart with constant use, but never one that disintegrated shortly after its first few openings. So you will gather the presentation of these six records is not to my liking. As one who believes that the 30s Teddy Wilson/Billie Holiday recordings were the pinnacle of all jazz performances on record, however good these are (and some of them are, very), there are bound to be let-downs. Consider the artistry of Wilson, Goodman, Eldridge, Webster, Hodges and the rthythm sections anchored by a young Cosy Cole mostly usiong brushes, and remember they were all originals and innovators - and that Holiday was one of them, a superb jazz musician.

Instrumentalists moved on in technique and what they played. Billie Holiday didn't change a lot. The young woman who sang
I Wished on the Moon on 2nd July 1935 was fully formed, whereas others like Ella Fitzgerald and Maxine Sullivan were not at a similar time in their careers. So here, a world-weary sounding Holiday, voice beginning to break up, sounds an anachronism with some of the accompaninists, who, of course, were moving onwards. Oscar Peterson sounds as if he ought to be down the corridor in another studio with Ella. Shavers is out of place too, frequently playing in poor taste, as he often did; lots of notes, no taste or finesse. Kessel, too, is not at ease. It is only when fellow 1930s originals Benny Carter and Ben Webster show that these recordings take off as complete works. Surpsisingly, Jimmy Rowles, to me, is great, with pointedly inserted two note chords and runs and deft interpolations, as well as most interesting solos. Harry Edison must also be mentioned in despathes.

For anyone coming to Billie Holiday anew I would advise working backwards, from her ultimate tapes and concert recordings, through the Verves, the Decca/Commodores to the Columbias. And, whatever reservations I have, you MUST have them all, including this cracker tinful. I thank the good Lord for CDs, because I would have worn out shellac or vinyl copies of I Wished on the Moon years ago.
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5 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great respect for "Lady Day"..., 25 Jan 2009
By 
C. Sundmacher "Mr.Blues" (Göttingen) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Complete Verve Studio Master Takes (Audio CD)
.. can be comforted in this madness Verve recordings of their time.
As stated by me in the reviews of the Columbia box set, so
I must take this new edition of Studio Takes me
Repeat:
> A truly singular event, a force of great music, a
Passion in this broken and consumed audible voice ...

Especially do I find the class much better picture of the individual
Instruments in 1993 compared to the Verve 10 CD Box. Especially the Guitar
by Barney Kessel I like very well, just great.

Added to continue in comparison to the total output of the old verve
Box hear sometimes more pleasant. The former disturbing false,
the change of studio / live recordings but a little clouded the
... Enjoy!
The accompanying circumstances of this unique artist, you can
their music is not even high enough rate ...

A milestone in the history of music, written in 1939 by Abel
Meerpol, accompanied them to the end of her life: "Strange Fruit".
This song was a very hard, rocky road of her career
We hear a mature singer, which the first protest song
presents. Respect for their courage in America during the 40s ...!
Others, like Marvin Gaye followed her almost 30 years later.

Without if and but should jazz lovers in 50th Death year from Lady Day
great to hear these recordings.

Billie Holiday shows in these recordings, as well Rematered yet
never before, her whole class! Any true jazz lovers, this
Box possess. They, together with the Columbia Recordings
the foundation of any good collection.

At the end of this letter comment on the much-criticized on Amazon.com packaging.
Can not disturb me, find the booklet very informative and finally indemnify the audiophile recordings the latent negligent in packaging Metalbox.
I love Billie Holiday and rate every music lover, this CD `s to treat ..
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