There was such beauty and intensity in these mid-'50s performances, some of Billie's last great recorded moments. Charlie Shavers, Wynton Kelly and Kenny Burrell are here on I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm; Ain't Misbehavin'; God Bless the Child; Strange Fruit , and more!
This CD includes material from two fine small-group sessions recorded in 1955 and '56, with arrangements provided by clarinetist Tony Scott and excellent support from trumpeter Charlie Shavers, tenorist Budd Johnson, and a young Kenny Burrell on guitar. The standards of the first session come alive with Holiday's ability to bring complex shadings to familiar material, while the later session includes some of her most personal and emotionally charged material. Her voice has a searing intensity on the late recording of "Strange Fruit," and there are powerful versions of "God Bless the Child" and "Lady Sings the Blues," songs written with Holiday's own lyrics. The CD concludes with an intimate view of Lady Day at work, a 15-minute rehearsal tape of her working through "God Bless the Child" with Scott at the piano. --Stuart Broomer