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The Essential Billie Holiday

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 2, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

The Essential Billie Holiday by Billie Holiday

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 2, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Plaza Mayor Company, Ltd.
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • ASIN: B004LZ5208
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #999,047 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

5 star
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4 star
11%
3 star
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2 star
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
For those who think Billie lost her capacity to perform should check this CD. She amazes with her way of reaching an audience with her stunning phrasing and ability to peel away the surface of a song. Being this is a live concert CD, I feel as though I'm sitting in the audience that particular night watching and listening to Lady Day onstage at Carnegie Hall, it's a very intimate and revealing performance. Even though the concert hall seats several thousand, the way Billie sings these songs identified with her really touches each and every listener present that day. You really get a sense she was reaching out for the audience and from their response, they sure let her know how they love her. My only gripe is including the readings from her autobiography by the announcer on stage that night, it's all included on this CD. Maybe the producers wanted the fans to listen excerpts from her book, but I could do without it. It really inteferes with the enjoyment of the concert unless you can program out those tracks containing the readings. Otherwise this is a great CD for listening to Billie LIVE and during her last years in front of an audience. She really was a great live performer.
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Format: Audio CD
There are times that I thank God, the Fates, or whomever for truly great moments in musical history, and "The Essential Billie Holiday" is definitely one of them. I first heard this album when I 17 years old and from the opening strains of "Lady Sings The Blues" to the final bars of "What A Little Moonlight Can Do", I was hooked. I committed that entire album to memory in less than two weeks, every note, nuance and shade. Lady could convey more about love, life and hunger in one song than most of us could over the course of an entire lifetime. Her voice had gotten rougher in her later years but to me that just made it all the more expressive.
I won't get into the darker aspects of Lady's life; those who are into Billie Holiday are all too familiar with that, and for those who aren't, I strongly suggest you read her autobiography, "Lady Sings The Blues". This concert, taped in November of 1956, just three years before her death in July of 1959, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Lady was indeed on top that night, the most honest JAZZ singer this backwards country ever produced.
I stress the word jazz because so many people tend to categorize Lady as a blues singer, something that she herself to a degree took humbrage to. Out of the hundreds of songs she recorded, less than a handful were stamped with letter, if not spirit of the blues. Don't believe me, listen with your own ears and judge for yourself, then you'll know what I'm talking about.
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Format: Audio CD
I really don't know what else to say about Billie Holliday except she was the true artist.
Every song has such feeling and presence it gives me goose bumps.
I can't really say more than this CD supercedes anything I have heard in a long time. A definite gem.
All I can say is if I could give 20 stars to Billie I would. This is a can't miss for your music collection.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
this album is as good as anything billie holiday recorded--better, because it's "live". tony scott's clarinet playing around and under billie is wonderful! classic stuff--cut two years before she died.
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Format: Audio CD
Now, Billie was not at her prime when this was recorded and you CAN hear a slippage or two... But she delivers much better
than she usually did at this stage of her short life. She sings with feeling and conviction, and her voice is flexible enough,
but with additional sad sound...
The back up is excellent:
Karl Drinkard (p), Kenny Burrell (g), Carson Smith (b), Chico Hamilton (dm)
and either
Roy Eldridge (tp) and Coleman Hawkins (ts)
or
Buck Clayton (tp), Tony Scott (cl), Al Cohn (ts)

Now there's this matter of tracks where a journalist reads excerpts from her sham autobiography: one jazz historian said that there's no doubt Billie didn't write it - the question is has she even read it.
However, if you're a jazz FAN, or, better yet BILLIE FAN, this additional pieces of mythology might be quite entertaining (thery are for me). There's some musical backup to the reading - on the first track, apparently, Tony Scott ruminates on the piano, with Hamilton on the drums.

But even if you don't like this reading part, there's enough of excellent Holiday to keep you listening.
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