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Commodore Master Takes [Best of]

Billie Holiday Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 18.50 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

Product Details

1. Strange Fruit
2. Yesterdays
3. Fine And Mellow
4. I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues
5. How Am I To Know?
6. My Old Flame
7. I'll Get By
8. I Cover The Waterfront
9. I'll Be Seeing You
10. I'm Yours
11. Embraceable You
12. As Time Goes By
13. He's Funny That Way
14. Lover, Come Back To Me
15. Billie's Blues
16. On The Sunny Side Of The Street

Product Description


These historic recordings--made mostly in 1939--represent a crucial period for Billie Holiday, who had already achieved some success as a jazz singer recording for Columbia but had yet to really reach her peak as a performer or icon. The Commodore Master Takes, recorded for Milt Gabler's small independent label, were a step towards Holiday's eventual infamy, thanks notably to the recording of "Strange Fruit," a controversial song about lynching that Columbia Records simply refused. Recording with several small bands that seemed to understand the nuances of her voice perfectly, Holiday is in full command of her faculties here, without a trace of her later deterioration. Instead, we have a singer bearing all the bittersweet conviction of the best blues stylists. Songs like "How Am I to Know?" and "My Old Flame" simply smolder, and the band's support is understated, not overpowering. Holiday is the show here. In its own way, that sets a precedent, considering this was still the big-band era, and a jazz singer with such sparse backing was still an anomaly. Excellent liner notes by Orrin Keepnews--who explains how his own relationship with Billie Holiday was sometimes rocky--complete the picture. --Joe S. Harrington

Product Description

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars fine and mellow Nov. 24 2001
By joe
Format:Audio CD
The "official" amazon.com review above says that these recordings wrre made "mostly" in 1939, which is misleading; four of the tunes, among them "Strange Fruit," were recorded then, but the other twelve are from 1944. The reviewer also says that the recordings contain no traces of her later "deterioration," but I hear considerably more raggedness here than on the earlier Columbia recordings. This isn't a criticism; these sides, I think, strike just the proper blanace between the chipper just-one-of-the guys vibe of the Columbias and the sometimes oppressively tragic atmosphere of the later Verve albums.
These are small-group recordings, but the accompaniments are more low-key than on the Columbias and the instrumentalists get much less solo space. So there is nothing here akin to Holiday's relationship with Lester Young on those earlier recordings. On the other hand, the material on the Commodores is superior; she recorded only the finest standards and blues, as opposed to the hokum she was regularly forced to deal with for Columbia. As for highlights, "Strange Fruit" is a remarkable historical document, more effective as moving propaganda than as a popular song. "I Cover the Waterfront" is one of the best versions of a classic tune, and her version of "How Am I To Know?" is especially striking, as she begins her vocal with a dramatically isolated "Oh!" before beginning her mournful reading of the lyric.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Arguably Lady Day's very best.... July 20 2001
Format:Audio CD
This CD contains all 16 master takes that Billie recorded on Commodore Records in 1939 and 1944. The standout item here is, of course, the immortal "Strange Fruit." All the other recordings, however, are outstanding as well. On the songs here, she's backed by small jazz combos, which (I agree with the other reviewers) is how she sounded best. I like her version of "Yesterdays" very much. Other gems include "My Old Flame," "I'll Be Seeing You," and "How Am I to Know." This is some of the most emotion-charged music you'll ever hear.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You can't go wrong with Lady Day July 4 2000
Format:Audio CD
Billie Holiday is the most exquisite jazz vocalist of all time. Her voice was like no other, and her phrasing almost always perfect. But even when she was not perfect and her voice a bit ragged, she still had a connection with every song she sang and every song sounded like it was written for her - she could sing anything and interpret every song to fit her own unique style. This is a great CD because it compiles the music from some of Billie's best years. Her voice is top notch on this CD and the band is truly solid. She was always so much more at home with small bands. Though in my opinion not as essential as the Verve collection (Lady In Autumn), this is still a great collection and highlighting Holiday at her peak.
I am hard pressed to think of a Billie Holiday CD I have not thoroughly enjoyed. It is really hard to go wrong with her recordings.
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5.0 out of 5 stars vulgar,sweet degrading, tempting June 2 2000
Format:Audio CD
billie can sing life into any song or phrase that she pleases. she can turn the most vulgar of songs into the sweetest; the most degrading of them into the most tempting. an impossible to forget from the first time you here it voice is what billie has. shes probably one of the most if not THE most emotional singer youll ever here
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