This compilation is a mixed bag of Billie Holiday's familiar studio recordings made for Columbia (between 1940-1942) and less common airchecks issued by various labels. Though her health problems caused by substance abuse affected her vocals toward the end of her career, Holiday is in good form throughout most of this anthology. The first dozen tracks can be readily found on the comprehensive box set Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia 1933-1944. They represent a good cross section of her work for the label under her own name and under the leadership of Teddy Wilson, Benny Carter, and Eddie Heywood, with tenor saxophonists Lester Young and Don Byas among the all-stars featured as soloists. Of greater interest are the live recordings, including a pair of performances at the 1944 Esquire Allstar Concert, where she is backed by the likes of Coleman Hawkins, Jack Teagarden, and Art Tatum, though the latter artist is barely audible at times. Another unusual track is a rare duet with the obscure pianist Archie Dryer, something Holiday clearly should have tried more often. There are eight selections from a concert, supposedly with Red Norvo's Orchestra (discographers disagree about his presence, though no vibes are audible), with the highlights including a brilliant duet of "Loverman" with pianist Jimmy Rowles and her sauntering "I Love My Man." The duplication of so many Columbia tracks is troublesome, but the decent sound restoration of the broadcast performances makes this collection worth acquiring.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden