Billie Holiday

Lady Day's 25 Greatest: 1933-1944

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Although she didn't technically have the greatest voice and range, the legendary Billie Holiday had an intangible ability to bring the full of her life to bear on whatever she sang, and every song she touched, no matter how trite, gained poignancy because of it. Modeling her vocal phrasing to echo the sound of a jazz horn, and fully aware of how to work a microphone, she continually suggested personal intimacy as she sang, even if the song she was singing was constructed to work in an entirely different direction. This approach means that one has to take the good Billie Holiday with the bad, and luckily there is plenty of the former. This set features tracks recorded between 1933 and 1944, and although it purports to include her 25 greatest sides, whether or not it actually does so could be easily debated (where, for instance, is "God Bless the Child"?). True, the wonderful "Fine and Mellow" is here, as is the eerie and unforgettable "Strange Fruit" and more generic but impressive cuts like "Easy Living" and "Long Gone Blues," so there is more than enough here to sustain her legend, but it isn't quite the be-all that the title suggests.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:44
2
feat: Teddy Wilson
3:02
3
feat: Teddy Wilson
2:59
4 2:50
5
feat: Teddy Wilson
3:26
6
feat: Teddy Wilson
2:54
7
feat: Teddy Wilson
3:08
8
feat: Teddy Wilson
3:02
9
feat: Teddy Wilson
3:03
10
feat: Teddy Wilson
3:02
11
feat: Count Basie
1:48
12
feat: Count Basie
3:20
13 2:39
14 2:51
15 3:01
16 3:10
17 2:59
18 2:48
19 2:36
20 1:28
21 4:12
22 3:01
23 2:52
24 2:46
25 3:07
blue highlight denotes track pick