Considering Billie Holiday's deep blues sensibility, natural rhythmic drive, and original take on lyric delivery, it is hardly any wonder why she earned a place in jazz royalty. These New York City sessions--gathered primarily from 1944 but also from '41 and '42--feature Ms. Holiday with small bands of seven or eight players led by Eddie Heywood or Teddy Wilson. There are none of the musically telepathic moments here that are heard on sides she cut with Buck Clayton and Lester Young, but these sides have their own unique delights.
This collection shows off what Billie could do with an occasional displaced beat or tasteful melodic substitution. Some would say that "I'll Be Seeing You" is one of her finest moments, but for sheer interpretive originality listen to her take on "As Time Goes By." The album is colored by the wonderful, R&B-flavored guitar stylings of the little-known Teddy Walters. On "He's Funny That Way," Walters backs up the vocals, subtly accentuating Billie's pop leanings.