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Lady Day: The Best of Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday

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Album Review

Forget for a moment that The Best of Lady Day: The Best of Billie Holiday was tied into the release of the superb box set, Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia (1933-1944), thereby offering a bit of advertisement to the full-fledged set. That doesn't matter — even if there was never a box set, this would have been a welcome addition to Billie Holiday's catalog, since it's the first concise, yet comprehensive, introduction to her groundbreaking, perhaps greatest, recordings. Over the course of two discs, nearly all of her finest moments for Columbia are chronicled (along with a handful of rarities to entice the curious to the big box), providing a welcome summary for serious listeners on a budget. Prior to this release, the Columbia recordings were available either individually, as part of the Quintessential series, or on haphazard single-disc collections. This provides a logical, thorough overview of her acknowledged peak at Columbia (meaning that there's nothing from Lady in Satin) and that may be enough for serious listeners who don't have the money or inclination to delve into the full box.

Biography

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...
Full bio

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