When you listen to Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan, you are overwhelmed by their tonal purity, their range and their jazz technique. When you listen to Billie Holliday, your first response is likely to be emotional.
This set follows the second half of her career from 1946 until her premature death in 1959 at the age of 44. On the early tracks, her heroin addiction was not affecting her voice and performance too much, by the end you could hear the pain and strain in her voice. You can almost hear life taking its toll track by track. On some levels, it is ghoulish to listen to her self-destruct, yet her recordings are so compelling, and they strike chords inside you that no other singers can do. There are several re-recordings of songs she did with Columbia in the 30s
This is a fairly old release from 1990. Most if not all of the albums that this music came from are now available in their entirity. If you just want a large sample of her later work, then this double set is just the thing.
My favourite track is 'Autumn In New York' from 1952. It is wistful and dreamy, and it really haunts me. It was voted record of the year by the readers of a leading jazz magazine.
There are other singers I prefer, Aretha Franklin and Sarah Vaughan spring to mind, yet there are times when only Billie Holliday will do.
on 6 November 2001
What to say about Billie Holiday. She lived 2 generations before me and I face already some brilliant new singers from a new generation. Why is Billie Holiday unique? There are female singers with a better voice, who have a better band and a better producer. Billie cannot use the techniques of today. The fact is she does not need all of that. Here voice is just like Chet Bakers voice coming from another dimension. It hurts and in the same time all your sorrows fade away. She sings against the melody of her band. The trouble with many recordings is the bad quality, which is really a pity. You like to improve that sound every time. Lady in Autumn has a perfect sound, a perfect melody and a Billie Holiday in a very best shape. This is the record from Billie Holiday you have to buy and you will enjoy it for the rest of your life.
on 16 February 2005
This was the first Lady Day record I bought and the beginning of my love affair with the voice. This CD is worth owning for the first 6 tracks alone which are live recordings from the Jazz at The Philarmonic series of concerts at Carneige Hall. To say they are awesome would be an understatement. Many people say her voice was in decline after the war years, but thse live recordings, taken from 44 i think, are absolutely divine. Never mind the crackles and primitive sound recording, turn up the volume and prepare to be 'blown away' !! The remainder of the CD is Lady with small combos in the 50's - demonstrating that even though her voice was in serious decline, her artistry was not and she can still convey a song with immense feeling. I read something the other day where the writer was discussing Billie and Ella Fitzgerald. He said the difference between the two of them was that when Ella sings "my man hasleft me" one assumes he's popped out for a loaf of bread!