The 21 performances on 2004's Lady Day Live commence with seven selections broadcast on WMEX from the legendary Storyville in Boston on October 28 through November 1, 1951. Joining Holiday and her trio of John Fields (bass), Marquis Foster (drums), and Buster Harding (piano) is tenor saxophonist Stan Getz on "'Tain't Nobody's Bizness if I Do," "You're Driving Me Crazy," and "Lover, Come Back to Me." Standouts include soulful renditions of "He's Funny That Way," "Billie's Blues," a refined yet bluesy "Detour Ahead," and the rollicking "Them There Eyes." Fast-forward to August 29, 1956, for the pairing of the slinky "Willow Weep for Me" and a high-energy version of "I Only Have Eyes for You." A very rare television appearance on the Steve Allen-hosted Tonight Show (February 10, 1956) is the source for "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You," and boasts backing by Skitch Henderson and the luminous Hudson Theater house band. "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" and "Foolin' Myself" are gleaned from a second TV spot, this time on Art Ford's Jazz Party (July 10, 1958). Sandwiched between those sides is a WMCA radio simulcast of "Tenderly" (December 10, 1952) recorded at the Apollo Theater in New York City. An exact date for "Good Morning Heartache" and "You Better Go Now" is not given; however, the announcer mentions the location as Mr. Kelly's -- a well-known venue in Chicago. The final aggregate provides a stark contrast as Holiday returns to Storyville on April 15, 1959, for the decidedly ragged but right "Nice Work if You Can Get It," "When Your Lover Has Gone," "Too Marvelous for Words," and another reading of "Lover, Come Back to Me." The bonus track is the moody and intimate "Don't Explain" (February 8, 1947) from a Carnegie Hall show with Louis Armstrong, who introduces Lady Day. As you can tell, while Lady Day Live may be an exceedingly haphazard listen, it is likewise an undeniably worthwhile anthology for any and all enthusiasts.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer