Billie Holiday: The Sensitive & 1937-1952

Joel Roberts By

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A search on Amazon reveals an absurd total of 498 Billie Holiday titles, including imports and out-of- print albums. That begs the question, "Do we really need another Holiday compilation? Two releases from Europe try to provide an affirmative answer.

Billie Holiday

The first collection, a two-disc set from the French Nocturne label covers the years 1937-1952 and seems geared primarily to jazz novices. The two discs are divided along the rather clumsy lines of "Bluesy Billie and "Swinging Billie . Since Holiday imbued everything she sang with a palpable melancholy and had no trouble shifting to a hard swinging mode when she wanted to, the distinction essentially comes down to slower tunes vs. faster ones. On the slower "bluesy disc are classic Holiday recordings like "Strange Fruit , "My Man and "God Bless the Child , while the "Swinging disc includes memorable renditions of "Gimme A Pigfoot and A Bottle of Beer , "On The Sunny Side of the Street and "I Only Have Eyes For You . Of special note is an irresistible 1949 duet with Louis Armstrong on "My Sweet Hunk o' Trash .

The nicely packaged album is part of a series pairing classic jazz recordings with specially commissioned comic strip art. The artwork here focuses on Holiday's 1938 tour with Artie Shaw's band - an early instance of a black singer performing with a white group and a predictably miserable experience for Holiday - although no tunes from that brief partnership are included.

Billie Holiday
The Sensitive Billie Holiday

The second collection, from Denmark's Storyville label, chooses a different adjective as its hook, focusing on The Sensitive Billie Holiday, 1940-1949. It's an apt title - for what singer was ever more sensitive than Lady Day - though not a particularly inspired one. The disc opens with a dozen key studio sides from 1940-42, including recordings with Roy Eldridge and Benny Carter, as well as Holiday's last session with Lester Young for more than a decade. (A selection from that splendid 1941 date with Young also appears on the Nocturne compilation.)

The 26-track, single-disc Storyville set is rounded out with a mixed bag of live dates from 1944-1949, including Holiday's only known recording with Art Tatum and a fine outing with a group led by vibraphonist Red Norvo.

These releases are terrific music that's widely available elsewhere but they add little to our understanding of this great singer.

Tracks and Personnel



1 My Man Charles, Pollack, Willemetz ... 2:40

2 Strange Fruit Allen 2:56 3 Jim Petrillo, Samuels, Shaw 3:08

4 Be Fair With Me Baby Darnell, Mesner 2:40

5 Don't Explain Herzog, Holiday 3:25

6 Georgia on My Mind Carmichael, Gorrell 3:10

7 The Man I Love Gershwin 3:07

8 Solitude DeLange, Ellington, Mills 3:18

9 Please Tell Me Know Clawson, Pope 3:16

10 Gloomy Sunday Javor, Lewis, Seress 3:13

11 Keeps on A-Rainin' Kortlander, Williams 3:19

12 As Time Goes By Upfeld 3:17

13 Lover Man Davis, Ramirez, Sherman 3:20

14 Am I Blue? Akst, Clarke 2:47

15 I Love My Man (Billie's Blues) Holiday 3:10

16 God Bless the Child Herzog, Holiday 3:11

17 Tell Me More and More Holiday 3:08

18 I'll Be Seeing You Fain, Kahal 3:33

19 Rocky Mountain Blues Haywood, Tucker 3:13

20 Yesterdays Harbach, Kern 2:51

21 Now or Never Holiday, Lewis 3:18

22 Blue Moon Hart, Rodgers 3:32

23 Miss Brown to You Rainger, Robin, Whiting 1:48

24 Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer Wilson 2:46

25 Practice Makes Perfect Gold, Roberts 2:37

26 On the Sunny Side of the Street Fields, McHugh 3:05

27 Remember Berlin 2:38

28 'Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do Grainger, Prince, 29 I'll Get By (As Long as I Have You) Ahlert, Turk 3:03

30 Sugar Alexander, Mitchell, Pinkard 2:48

31 My Sweet Hunk O'Trash Johnson, Miller 3:22

32 Laughin' at Life Kenny, Kenny, Todd, Todd 2:55

33 I Only Have Eyes for You Dubin, Warren 2:58

34 Lover, Come Back to Me Hammerstein, Romberg 3:22

35 Them There Eyes Pinkard, Tauber, Tracey 2:53

36 Trav'lin' All Alone Johnson 2:15

37 Easy to Love Porter 3:03

38 I'll Never Fail You Mizzy, Taylor 3:02

39 It's a Sin to Tell a Lie Mayhew 3:07

40 Moonglow DeLange, Hudson, Mills 3:01


Louis Armstrong Vocals; Georgie Auld Sax (Alto), Sax (Tenor); Buster Bailey Clarinet; Danny Barker Guitar; Everett Barksdale Guitar; Joe Benjamin Bass; Emmett Berry Trumpet; Wallace Bishop Drums; Bill Bowen Sax (Alto); Ray Brown Bass, Guitar; Mort Bullman Trombone; Don Byas Sax (Tenor); Toots Camarata Arranger; Benny Carter Clarinet, Arranger, Sax (Alto); Al Casey Guitar; Sidney Cattlet Drums; Doc Cheatham Trumpet; Kenny Clarke Drums; Buck Clayton Trumpet; Cozy Cole Drums; John Collins Guitar; Jimmy Crawford Drums; Lem Davis Sax (Alto); Vic Dickenson Trombone; Joe Eldridge Sax (Alto); Roy Eldridge Trumpet; Herschel Evans Sax (Tenor); Gene Fields Guitar; John Fields Bass; Marquis Foster Drums; Freddie Green Guitar; Tiny Grimes Guitar; Joe Guy Trumpet; Bob Haggart Bass; Al Hall Bass; Jimmy Hamilton Clarinet, Sax (Tenor); Buster Harding Piano; J.C. Heard Drums; Horace Henderson Piano; Haywood Henry Sax (Tenor); Eddie Heywood Piano, Arranger; Milt Hinton Bass; Billie Holiday Vocals; Illinois Jacquet Sax (Tenor); Harry James Trumpet; Gordon Jenkins Arranger, Choir Director; Bud Johnson Sax (Tenor); Gus Johnson Drums; Jo Jones Drums; Ken Kersey Piano; Barney Kessel Guitar; Billy Kyle Piano; Benny Morton Trombone; Joe Newman Quartet Trumpet; Sy Oliver Arranger; Walter Page Bass; Oscar Peterson Organ, Piano; Flip Phillips Sax (Tenor); Ernie Powell Sax (Tenor); Bernie Privin Trumpet; Paul Quinichette Sax (Tenor); Milt Raskin Piano; Don Redman Arranger, Sax (Alto); Babe Russin Clarinet, Sax (Tenor); Edgar Sampson Sax (Alto); Hymie Schertzer Clarinet, Sax (Alto); Kermit Scott Sax (Tenor); Charlie Shavers Trumpet; Alvin Stoller Drums; Claude Thornhill Piano; Bobby Tucker Piano; Teddy Walters Guitar; John "Buddy" Williams Bass; Teddy Wilson Piano, Arranger; Lester Young Sax (Tenor), Soloist

The Sensitive Billie Holiday


1 I'm All for You Bresler, Wynn 3:28

2 I Hear Music Lane, Loesser 2:41

3 It's the Same Old Story Field, Oliphant 3:09

4 Practice Makes Perfect Gold, Roberts 2:44

5 St. Louis Blues Handy 2:57

6 Loveless Love Handy 3:17

7 Let's Do It Porter 2:57

8 All of Me Marks, Simons 3:49

9 I'm in a Low Down Groove Jacobs 3:08

10 I Cover the Waterfront Green, Heyman 2:56

11 It's a Sin to Tell a Lie Mayhew 3:02

12 Until the Real Thing Comes Along Kirk 3:08

13 Do Nothing 'Till You Hear from Me Ellington, Russel 3:26

14 I'll Get By Ahlert, Turk 1:26

15 Billie's Blues Holiday 3:10

16 All of Me Marks, Simons 2:00

17 The Man I Love Gershwin 2:23

18 Miss Brown to You Rainger, Robin, Whiting 2:00

19 Loverman Davis, Ramirez, Sherman 2:44

20 I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone Johnson 3:53

21 I Love My Man Holiday 3:36

22 You Ain't Gonna Bother Me No More Camarata 3:04

23 Good Morning Heartache Drake, Fisher, Higginbotham 3:31

24 You're Driving Me Crazy Donaldson 1:32

25 Maybe You'll Be There Bloom, Gallop 3:31

26 You Better Go Now Graham, Reichner 3:12


Georgie Auld Sax (Alto), Sax (Tenor); Eddie Barefield Sax (Alto); Emmett Berry Trumpet; Barney Bigard Clarinet; Don Byas Sax (Tenor); Albert Casey Guitar; Big Sid Catlett Drums; Paul Chapman Guitar; Kenny Clarke Drums; Bill Coleman Trumpet; John Collins Guitar; Shad Collins Trumpet; Herbert Cowans Drums; Roy Eldridge Trumpet; Percy Faith Accompaniment; Al Hall Bass; Jimmy Hamilton Clarinet, Sax (Tenor); Herbie Harper Trombone; Coleman Hawkins Sax (Tenor); J.C. Heard Drums; Neal Hefti Trumpet; Billie Holiday Vocals; Leslie Johnakins Sax (Alto); Ulysses Livingston Guitar; Grachan Moncur III Bass; Benny Morton Trombone; Wilson Myers Bass; Red Norvo Vibraphone; Hot Lips Page Trumpet; Oscar Pettiford Bass; Yank Porter Drums; Don Redman Sax (Alto); Jimmy Rowles Piano; Babe Russin Sax (Tenor); Hymie Schertzer Sax (Alto); Iggy Shevak Bass; Herbie Steward Clarinet, Sax (Tenor); Ted Sturgis Bass; Art Tatum Piano; Jack Teagarden Trombone; Sonny White Piano; John "Buddy" Williams Bass; Lester Young Sax (Tenor)


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