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Beautiful Ballads & Love Songs: Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday

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Album Review

Every few years, Legacy finds fresh excuses to cull Billie Holiday's classic catalog, with a dubious regularity rivaled by MOJO Beatles covers. Here it's their Beautiful Ballads & Love Songs series, which had heretofore mostly hit soul singers, not American Songbook crooners. Yet, since Columbia had Holiday at her early acme before booze and bad men took tolls, one revels in the endless manna each slice serves. This is more 1935-1941 magic, with tunes by the likes of Johnny Mercer, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and the Gershwins given her unforgettably long, languid treatments. Even where there are preferable versions (Fats Waller's whimsical "Until the Real Thing Comes Along," Helen Forrest/Benny Goodman's romantic "The Man I Love," Louis Armstrong's twinkling "Body and Soul"), she puts such a singular stamp on everything, it's incredible. And no one ever did "Summertime," "Night and Day," or "All of Me" better — all so bittersweet, even in surrender. Ahhh. ~ Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover, Rovi


Born: 07 April 1915 in Baltimore, MD

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s

The first popular jazz singer to move audiences with the intense, personal feeling of classic blues, Billie Holiday changed the art of American pop vocals forever. More than a half-century after her death, it's difficult to believe that prior to her emergence, jazz and pop singers were tied to the Tin Pan Alley tradition and rarely personalized their songs; only blues singers like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey actually gave the impression they had lived through what they were singing. Billie Holiday's...
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