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Billie Holiday: Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia 1933-1944

Billie Holiday

The Billie Holiday recordings of 1935-42, both with and without pianist Teddy Wilson, are rightfully famous. Teamed with all-stars drawn from a variety of swing bands including tenor saxophonist Lester Young (a perfect fit) and trumpeter Buck Clayton, Lady Day is often heard at her happiest in these three-minute gems that consistently make every second count. The recordings have been reissued many different times, with the 10-CD The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia 1933-1944 being the best way to acquire everything, including alternate takes.

Recently the four-CD Lady Day: The Master Takes and Singles (Columbia/Legacy) was released. Despite its title, this is not a “complete” set, for Holiday recorded 153 titles during this era. Among the missing items are “It’s Too Hot For Words,” “Twenty Four Hours A Day,” “Getting Some Fun Out of Life,” “I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love With Me,” “If Dreams Come True,” “Now They Call it Swing,” “Back in Your Own Backyard” and “I Hear Music.” A fifth CD would have allowed this project to reissue everything that is truly worthwhile, but the four CDs do contain 79 of Holiday’s best recordings, one classic after another. No jazz collection is complete without a generous number of Holiday performances and it is difficult to top “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” “I Cried for You,” “No Regrets,” “This Year’s Kisses,” “Mean to Me,” “Foolin’ Myself” and a couple dozen others that are included and are essential.

Originally Published