These 21 performances are from the era when Holiday was just beginning to rise above the bad material insistently thrust upon her by record companies. However, there are a few fine songs from the likes of Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern and more than a couple of sow's-ears that Billie has fashioned into silk purses. The Holiday featured here is a buoyant one, her sorrow and heartache spicing the mix like raisins in a pudding. Accompaniment by her orchestra and by Teddy Wilson's group bounces along in pre-bop fashion; solos by Wilson, Ben Webster and Artie Shaw are up to Holiday's caliber. The drumming, alternately by Cozy Cole and Gene Krupa, is impeccable.
Highlights include "Easy to Love," "Billie's Blues," and "The Way You Look Tonight," but there is much to recommend in this collection. "Summertime" is sunnier in Holiday's hands, and "A Fine Romance" and "I Can't Pretend" are classic mixes of Holiday's blues-tinged jazz and her orchestra's steady, stalking swing. This is the sound of Holiday blossoming.