- Audio CD (15 Jan. 1996)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Format: Box set, Double CD
- Label: Universal Classics
- ASIN: B00000470G
- Other Editions: Audio CD | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 294,967 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
All Or Nothing At All: The Billie Holiday Story Vol.7 Box set, Double CD
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Audio CD, Box set, Double CD, 15 Jan 1996
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By the time these recordings were made in 1956 and 57, Billie Holiday's life and career were ebbing to premature close. It's a story which has been told, twisted and embellished ad nauseum. Die-hard fans are bemused that her later work, with her voice reflecting the accumulated scars of addiction and misuse, should be so highly regarded. They prefer to listen to the prodigious output of her early recording career which started as early as 1935, and which reveals her talent as a vocal musician in all its youthful glory. But as biographer Donald Clarke's accompanying notes suggest, the decline of her voice actually heightened her ability as an interpreter of lyrics and it's this quality which makes these sessions so compulsive to listen to. In fact, they originally comprised two classic albums, Songs for Distingue Lovers and Body and Soul, made for Norman Granz's pioneering Verve label. True, the material is heavily biased towards the torch song, but there are a number of light pop standards ("Moonlight In Vermont" and "April In Paris") which make it absolutely clear that Holiday was never, even at this late stage, a one-dimensional tragedienne. --Piers Ford
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The songs, which represent the cream of the 20th century American songbook, were recorded over seven sessions; two in 1956 and five in January 1957. So, unlike some of her music that's available from the 1930's, these were recorded in stereo and the annoying hisses and pops are gone. Yes, this was late in her career but she is still strong!
She's working with some other legendary musicians here, too. Ben Webster on the saxophone is also a master at telling a story through music. Harry "Sweets" Edison on the trumpet and Jimmy Rowles on piano are outstanding.
Although I had always heard she was phenomenal, I never quite "got it" until I heard "All or Nothing At All." Now I understand why Sinatra spent hours listening to her in clubs to learn how to phrase a song.
On a side note, if you're listening to this CD in Windows Media Player, your cheating yourself if you let WMP get away with its one-size-fits-all equalizer settings. Be sure to set it to "jazz" if not a custom setting.