Living Era presents a collection of recordings made by Billie Holiday for the Vocalion, Columbia, Commodore, and Decca labels between July 1935 and January 1946, a decade that represents what some consider to be her golden years. Wishing on the Moon is predominately a Tin Pan Alley love song anthology, containing a good mix of romance and heartbreak numbers, including two of Lady Day's many lunar tunes ("I Wished on the Moon" and "A Sailboat in the Moonlight"), two originals composed in collaboration with Arthur Herzog, Jr. ("God Bless the Child" and "Don't Explain"), and "Good Morning Heartache," a song so perfectly suited to this singer's sensibilities that many people assume that she wrote it herself. Like her close friend Lester Young, Billie Holiday bared her soul to the public by interpreting popular melodies in an intimate and stylized yet unpretentious manner. Both Pres and Lady Day left sequential diaries of recorded performances that document their triumphs and travails with disarming honesty. Most of the ensembles backing Billie Holiday during the 1930s were billed as Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra. A few were designated as Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra; the later Commodore and Decca groups heard on this disc were led by Eddie Heywood, Toots Camarata, Bob Haggart, and Bill Stegmeyer. Scratch beneath the surface and you'll discover that this kind of Billie Holiday collection is like a who's who of jazz during the late '30s and early to mid-'40s. Exceptional players heard here are trumpeters Roy Eldridge, Bunny Berigan, Henry "Red" Allen, Jonah Jones, Cootie Williams, Buck Clayton, Emmett Berry, and Charlie Shavers; clarinetists Benny Goodman, Buster Bailey, Artie Shaw, and Irving Fazola; and saxophonists Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Ben Webster, Chu Berry, and Lester Young. There are a lot of Billie Holiday compilations to choose from. This little taste may suffice on its own or encourage further exploration; it could conceivably provoke sensitive individuals into pursuing her complete Vocalion/Columbia, Commodore, Decca, and Verve catalogs.
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: Eddie Heywood
feat: Bill Stegmeyer