Billie Holiday

V-Disc Recordings: A Musical Contribution by America's Best for Our Armed Forces Overse

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Billie Holiday's reputation as a jazz singer is such that any newly unearthed recordings are historically valuable. Her performances of nine songs for the '40s-era V-Disc program presented here could do with more annotation (for example, when did they take place exactly?), or even any at all, and one wishes they ran longer than 30 minutes. Also, some of them sound suspiciously like previously released recordings. But Holiday nevertheless is wonderful on some of her familiar tunes, notably a medley (or is it just an odd edit?) of "Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me" and "I'll Get By" recorded live before a large, enthusiastic audience. Distributor Collectors' Choice Music notes in its catalog that Holiday is accompanied by the Louis Armstrong Orchestra on "Don't Explain," though this is not claimed on the disc itself. Actually, Armstrong introduces her and she is then backed by a solo piano. But Armstrong is clearly also present on "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans" -- he duets with her. Both tracks appear to come from a promotional show for their 1947 film New Orleans. Holiday's other backing units are accomplished. Wonder who they are. For a price under $10, the album is reasonable value for the money.

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