Billie Holiday

I Like Jazz: The Essence of Billie Holiday

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Though it is probable that her talent would have been discovered eventually, the fact that John Hammond put a teenage Billie Holiday in the studio in 1933 is one of jazz's more fortuitous occurrences. Surrounding Ms. Holiday with excellent players at such an early stage surely helped shape her musicianly approach to a tune. Her incredible, elastic sense of beat placement and playful toying with melodies are informed by the blues--Bessie Smith was her idol--and an improviser's perspective on interpretation. This excellent compilation, taken roughly from the first 10 years of her career, is a fine introduction to her artistry for newcomers as well as a great single disc sampling for the already converted. Quintessential renditions of "God Bless the Child," "All of Me," and "The Man I Love" are included as well as an irrepressible, peppy "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," taken from her first commercial recording session.

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