Also available as part of a 3 CD set called VOICES OF THE CENTURY (VERVE 543 077), with Ella Fitzgerald's PRICLESS JAZZ COLLECTION (GRD 9870) and Carmen McRae's PRICELESS JAZZ COLLECTION (GRP 9897).
Personnel includes: Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong (vocals); Bill Stegmeyer, Milter Yaner (alto saxophone, clarinet); Toots Mondello (alto saxophone); John Fulton (tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet); Hank Ross, Bernie Kaufman, Armand Camgros (tenor saxophone); Dick "Dent" Eckles (flute); Joe Guy, Russ Case, Bobby Hackett (trumpet); Joe Springer, Billy Kyle, Dave Bowman, Charles LaVerve (piano); Tiny Grimes, Mundell Lowe, Jimmy Shirley, Carl Kress, Everett Barksdale (guitar); John Simmons, Bob Haggart, Thomas Barney, Joe Benjamin (bass); Sid Catlett, Kenny Clarke, Denzil Best, Kelly Martin, Jimmy Crawford, George Wettling (drums); The Gordon Jenkins Singers (background vocals).
Producer: Milt Gabler.
Reissue producer: John Snyder.
Recorded at Decca's New York Studios, New York, New York between 1944 and 1950. Includes liner notes by Jim Macnie.
Digitally remastered by Erick Labson (1997, MCA Studios, New York, New York).
This is part of GRP Records' Priceless Jazz series.
On these 16 songs compiled from Holiday's 1943-1950 recordings for Decca, the somber songbird is clearly at the height of her vocal ability. Although many of the famous musicians from her Columbia years are absent, Holiday's musical maturity works wonderfully with well-written songs and her proficient backing band.
"Good Morning Heartache," "My Man (Mon Homme)," "Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be?)," and "Don't Explain" all highlight Holiday's intimate, lilting voice and intuitive sense of tragic romance. In contrast, the singer also reveals a surprisingly playful side on clever renditions of "Baby I Don't Cry Over You" and "You Can't Lose a Broken Heart" (a duet with Louis Armstrong). In spite of its many essential tracks, including the Holiday-penned perennial "God Bless the Child," this compilation is far from comprehensive, and works best as an introduction to Holiday's music. The only thing this PRICELESS JAZZ COLLECTION truly lacks is more Billie Holiday.