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

B+

No boxed set could capture Billie Holiday. This one tells the front of the story, but it’s a big enough tale. She enters as an 18-year-old, singing forgettable tunes with Benny Goodman’s orchestra in 1933. Soon she’s recording with swing-era dream teams led by pianist Teddy Wilson. Benny Goodman and Lester Young support her definitive ”I Must Have That Man”; Young and Johnny Hodges play on her classic ”Mean to Me” (both from 1937). We hear famous takes (1941’s ”God Bless the Child”), outtakes, even some buried treasures (1939’s ”Long Gone Blues”). Bathed in purple tones, the 114-page booklet includes a rich essay by critic Gary Giddins and detailed production notes by Michael Brooks. Holiday’s most devastating work was still to come, but these 230 tracks detail how her expressive devices sharpened even as her identity blurred.

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