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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1957 | Verve

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Vocal Jazz - Released April 3, 2015 | Columbia - Legacy

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Vocal Jazz - Released June 1, 1958 | Columbia - Legacy

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Vocal Jazz - Released March 3, 1958 | Verve

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Vocal Jazz - Released June 1, 1958 | Columbia - Legacy

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1956 | Clef Records

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Jazz - Released March 24, 2015 | Columbia - Legacy

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1956 | Clef Records

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Jazz - Released March 24, 2015 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released March 24, 2015 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1956 | Verve

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Vocal Jazz - Released November 14, 2015 | Landmark

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1957 | Verve Reissues

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Vocal Jazz - Released July 22, 2016 | Jazz Essential

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1956 | Verve Reissues

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Vocal Jazz - Released February 7, 2018 | Resurfaced Records

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Vocal Jazz - Released October 26, 2010 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released November 6, 2009 | Verve Reissues

Although many of Billie Holiday's recordings for Commodore and Decca are often overlooked -- at least in comparison to the songs that bookend her career (for Columbia and Verve) -- they include some of her best work, beginning at the end of the '30s with "Strange Fruit" and stretching to the end of the '40s with "God Bless the Child." In 1939, Billie Holiday was a jazz sensation without a hit record. She gained that hit record, and began her journey to musical immortality, when her label Columbia refused to record "Strange Fruit," and jazz fan Milt Gabler welcomed her to his aficionado label, Commodore. Gabler recorded Holiday often over the next ten years, both at Commodore and through his work at Decca in the mid-to late '40s. While on Commodore, Holiday focused on downcast ballads, including "I Cover the Waterfront" and "I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues" (dubbed "loser" songs by Gabler), but she also excelled with warm and affectionate material too, "Embraceable You" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street." Regardless of the material, her backing consisted of small groups usually led by a pair of saloon-sound maestros: Doc Cheatham on trumpet and Eddie Heywood on piano. That sound was in for a switch when Holiday moved to Decca, however, beginning with another big hit, "Lover Man," a pop ballad with the full crossover treatment -- strings and all. (Gabler had no compunction about false notions of purity, and he happily recorded Holiday with strings and backing choruses whenever the song demanded it.) Even more than her work for Commodore, Holiday's work for Decca was melancholy and resigned in the extreme, with sterling treatments of yet more loser songs: "Don't Explain," "Good Morning Heartache," "You Better Go Now," and "What Is This Thing Called Love." Individually, the songs are excellent, and as a package, The Complete Commodore & Decca Masters can hardly be beat. It's a splendid accompaniment to similar sets devoted to Billie Holiday's Columbia and Verve output, and while completists will bemoan the lack of the many alternate takes -- most of the Commodore sides have two alternate takes for each master recording, available elsewhere -- this is all the war-years Billie Holiday one could hope for. ~ John Bush
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 30, 1996 | Legacy - Columbia

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Vocal Jazz - Released March 27, 2015 | Columbia - Legacy

A hundredth birthday is a good reason to release a new Billie Holiday collection, but it's also true that it's been a little while since Legacy has returned to this particular well. As of 2015, it's been 14 years since the complete box Lady Day and eight years since the nice double-disc distillation, so a single-disc set like The Centennial Collection is indeed welcome. Legacy didn't limit itself to the Columbia catalog for this set, either. Drawing from sides recorded for Brunswick, Vocalion, OKeh, Commodore, and Decca between 1937 and 1945, this 20-track collection contains the original (and often best-known) performances of many of her best-known songs, including "These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)," "The Very Thought of You," "Them There Eyes," "God Bless the Child," "Gloomy Sunday," and "Strange Fruit." This by no means touches on everything the great Holiday recorded -- there is nothing from Verve, for instance -- this is nevertheless better than most single-disc sets on touching upon her best work. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine