Lady Day: The Master Takes And Singles - Billie Holiday (4 CDs)
Billie Holiday's story is so huge, her artistry so vast, and her impact so incalculable, that even attempting to corral a representative sampling of it within a single collection of recordings is an overwhelming, perhaps foolhardy task. Many have tried, of course, and literally hundreds of options of varying quality and legitimacy, scattered across dozens of labels, are available to the consumer. Neophytes, or those not willing to commit to a gargantuan listening session, can settle for any number of single- or double-CD best-ofs that adequately present Holiday's most important, better-known music. These re-mastered Columbia tracks are some of the most important jazz vocal recordings of the 20th century. This extraordinary 4 disk set contains many of her finest 1930's and early 40's recordings backed by some of the best musicians with whom she ever performed. The sound quality is much improved over the "Quintessential" series released in the late 80's. Of course, it is not as complete as the 10 CD package but for the money this 40 song collection is a great deal by any standard. Few singers have ever expressed their inner soul as profoundly as Billie Holiday. She could take the most trivial tunes and turn them into testaments to her joy and pain. This is honest music of the highest caliber.