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'A masterpiece, as fresh and shocking as if it were written yesterday' Craig Brown "I've been told that no one sings the word 'hunger' like I do. Or the word 'love'." Lady Sings the Blues is the inimitable autobiography of one of the greatest icons of the twentieth century. Born to a single mother in 1915 Baltimore, Billie Holiday had her first run-in with the law at aged 13. But Billie Holiday is no victim. Her memoir tells the story of her life spent in jazz, smoky Harlem clubs and packed-out concert halls, her love affairs, her wildly creative friends, her struggles with addiction and her adventures in love. Billie Holiday is a wise and aphoristic guide to the story of her unforgettable life.
The Quintessence New York - Los Angeles: 1935-1944 captures a number of classics recorded by Billie Holiday between 1935 and 1944. These 36 tracks include such standards as "Strange Fruit," "Them There Eyes," "God Bless the Child," and "Lover Man." While the Fr‚meaux & Associ‚s releases are recommended to casual fans, it would be easier to locate The Ultimate Collection on Hip-O. ~ Al Campbell
MISS BROWN TO YOU is noteworthy for the fact that it includes Holiday's very first recordings. The earliest, "Your Mother's Son In Law" and "Riffin' The Scotch", were recorded with Benny Goodman's orchestra (including Jack Teagarden and Gene Krupa) in 1933. The rest of the album includes work with the Duke Ellington and Teddy Wilson Orchestras. It's difficult to pinpoint these tracks as Lady Day's first however, since she emerges here, if not fully formed, then as an already stunningly distinctive stylist. She approaches vocal phrasing with the sensitivity of an instrumentalist--from the sly swing of "Eeny Meeny Miney Mo" to the up-front seduction of "It's Too Hot For Words". The songs are firmly rooted in the swing era, and it is a pleasure to hear Holiday sing the uptempo songs of the time, rather than her more familiar signature standards--though in ballads like "If You Were Mine" her later intimate, blues-drenched delivery is in full-bloom. MISS BROWN TO YOU, a historical document of Lady Day's first and no less wonderful recordings, is a keeper.
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