||From the Vault...
"Lady In Autumn: The Best Of The Verve Years"
© Verve Records
Year of Release: 1991
Body And Soul
All Of Me
(There Is) No Greater Love
I Cover The Waterfront
These Foolish Things
Remind Me Of You
Autumn In New York
(I Got A Man Crazy
What A Little
Moonlight Can Do
I Cried For You
(Now It's Your Turn
To Cry Over Me)
Too Marvelous For Words
I Wished On The Moon
I Don't Want To
Prelude To A Kiss
If You Can Get It
Come Rain Or Come Shine
God Bless The Child
Do Nothin' Till You Hear
April In Paris
Lady Sings The Blues
Fine And Mellow
I Didn't Know
What Time It Was
Stars Fell On Alabama
One For My Baby
(And One More
For The Road)
Gee Baby Ain't I
Good To You
Can You Be)
All The Way
Don't Worry 'Bout Me
Billie Holiday related sites:
"Lady In Autumn: The Best Of The Verve Years"
One source of music I cannot absolutely say I really know alot of, is Contemporary Jazz. Sure, I've heard the
names, but I never really followed their careers, knowing exactly which songs and albums that made them famous.
So it was hard to determine what kind of CD to get, by Billie Holiday. Her career spanned from the 1930s to the
end of the 1950s. (The year 1959 would become her untimely and shameful death). As I observed her Lady
In Autumn: The Best Of The Verve Years, Verve Records would be the home of many famous early Jazz greats
(Sarah Vaughan, Dizzie Gillespie; in later years of Rock music -- The Righteous Brothers and The Velvet Underground)
This 2-disc set would capture Holiday's later recordings, from 1946 to 1959. The liner notes mention of these
recordings were from her years at the following record labels: Clef, Verve and MGM. Some say that this was
her "weakest" part of her career. In 1947, she was arrested for what would be her downfall, drugs, and her drug
abuse would lead her to her untimely death in 1959, at the young age of 44. Aside from that, this 2-disc set
captures Jazz at its finest. Her drug abuse may have caused her voice to change, as most critics pointed out.
For me, I never really followed her music while growing up. Most of these songs on this set would be co-written
by Billie Holiday, and would become jazz standards.
Disc One's first four tracks were from a live album, Jazz At The Philharmonic - Concert. This concert
was held at the Embassy Theater in Los Angeles, on Monday, April 22, 1946. Each song captures a soulful Billie
Holiday, as by this time, these songs were already well-known to her audience: "Body And Soul," "Strange Fruit"
(which Billie explains to the audience before the song: "Thank you, thank you, thank you very much ladies and
gentlemen, and now I'd like to sing a tune that was written especially for me, it's titled "Strange Fruit." I hope
you like it.") The remaining two songs are "Trav'lin' Light," and the ever popular "All Of Me."
The next two songs were also from another live album, Billie Holiday At J.A.T.P. - Concert. "(There Is) No
Greater Love" and "I Cover The Waterfront." This concert was held at Carnegie Hall in New York, on Saturday,
May 24, 1947. Like the first four live tracks, the audience applauds as Billie begins singing these two latter songs,
and they applaud afterwards. And they should -- each track showcases pure soulful Jazz, as Billie always did.
(As many decades has passed since these recordings, they are still fresh, and never aging.)
Three songs follow from Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra: "Those Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You),"
"Tenderly," and "Autumn In New York." All of these recordings are obviously priceless, yet
"Tenderly" can be the best of this 3-set. Even the orchestration stands out on this track, as well as Holiday's
Four songs emerge next, from Billie Holiday & Her Lads Of Joy, (1952). "My Man" is a song that I
remembered, but by name only. My only rememberence of this song was by Diana Ross, as she portrayed Holiday in the
movie Lady Sings The Blues. Who doesn't remember this immortal classic "Stormy Weather" ?
I don't recall Billie Holiday's version here, but I have heard this song recorded by many, many other popular acts.
It's a classic standard. "Yesterdays" is another well recorded track. "(I Got A Man Crazy For Me) He's
Funny That Way" is another song, where both the orchestration and vocals blend very well. [These four tracks
have a sexy approach, and it seems that Billie Holiday enjoyed recording these tracks, although by this time, she
had already been experiencing with personal drug addictions.]
Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra provides the next three songs, (1954). "What A Little Moonlight Can Do"
is an excellent, upbeat, hop-and-skippin' scat jazz number. Once again, her voice and the orchestra are fantastic.
(Especially the orchestra on this one.) "I Cried For You (Now It's Your Turn To Cry Over Me)" is another
soulful song, both by orchestra and voice. "Too Marvelous For Words" is a good title for this particular
song; it IS a very marvelous track.
The next song is from Billie Holiday with Tony Scott & His Orchestra: "I Wished On The Moon," (1953).
It's one of those mood-setting songs, good music for a little late-night romance (which this whole disc can also be
used for). The orchestration towards the end of this song is truly classic, the horns, the guitar, piano ... great
stuff. (And for those of you wondering, Tony Scott was a clarinet player.)
Once again, we go back to two tracks by Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra, ending the first disc: "I Don't
Want To Cry Anymore" and "Prelude To A Kiss"; (1953). Both songs achieve greatness, in both music
orchestration, and voice.
Disc Two starts off with three songs by Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra, (1953): "Nice Work If You Can Get
It" [NOW THIS IS GREAT JAZZ!!], "Come Rain Or Come Shine" [SEXY!!] and "What's New" [Very Soulful].
As mentioned earlier, Billie Holiday would co-write songs that would become Jazz standards. The first
one on this collection is with Tony Scott & His Orchestra (1956) -- "God Bless The Child." (I remember this
song by Blood, Sweat & Tears.) This is Classic Jazz.
Does this album keep getting better and better? You bet... Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra continues onward,
with two more songs, from 1956: "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me" and "April In Paris." Both are
The next three songs come from her Carnegie Hall sets with Chico Hamilton (1956). First set: "Lady Sings The
Blues" and "Don't Explain." (Both songs were co-written by Billie Holiday, and would become jazz
standards.) "Fine And Mellow" (also co-written by Holiday and a jazz standard) was from Holiday and Hamilton's
second set. All three songs easily fits the Blues mold, yet still it has the sultry Jazz / New Orleans Jazz sound.
Most of the songs on this second disc has a comparison to another female singer, who would share the same
ups and downs of life as Billie Holiday: Judy Garland. Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra's 1957 "I Didn't Know
What Time It Was" could easily been recorded by Garland. Likewise, "Stars Fell On Alabama" easily fits
Billie's voice, Sure, Judy could have sung this song too, but I think it fits Billie much better. But "One For
My Baby (And One More For The Road)" is Billie Holiday -- Blues, Jazz, you name it, it's all Billie
Holiday. The same is said for the bluesy "Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You." [Note: These four songs mentioned
were all by Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra, 1957.]
Another fine live performance, from The Seven Ages Of Jazz - Concert, 1958 -- "Lover Man (Oh, Where Can
You Be)" Billie joins Ray Ellis & His Orchestra on the next 2 tracks, "All The Way" and "Don't Worry
'Bout Me" (1959).
It's a coincidence of the last track title -- "Don't Worry 'Bout Me." This entire 2-disc set is just
absolutely fabulous. Hard times would be a huge part in Billie Holiday's life, from 1947 to her death in 1959.
She was arrested for drugs in 1947. She was released a year later, but was arrested again in early 1949.
The 1950s would be overshadowed by her drug abuse, drinking, and relationships with abusive men, affecting her health.
During this time, her hardships affected her voice, growing coarse, and no longer had its superiority it was had.
Her late recordings on Verve Records was a third of her legacy, and was as popular as her earlier work for Columbia,
Commodore and Decca labels. (In listening to the songs on this 2-disc set during these years, I really didn't see any
weaknesses; yet I really didn't know of any recordings of her's, prior to 1947.)
Lady In Autumn: The Best Of The Verve Years is a complete dose (pardon the drug pun) of Billie Holiday's
music. The pictures in the CD booklet are priceless. What little information that is contained in the booklet,
doesn't compare to the 35 outstanding tracks there are on this compilation. Also to mention, were the musicians
in the band who performed with her: Oscar Peterson, Barney Kessel, Ray Brown, Charlie Shavers, Joe Newman, Paul
Quinichette, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Tony Scott, Benny Carter, Jimmy Bowles, Ben Webster...
Where most one-disc sets of 10-15 songs just isn't enough, this compilation is a great mood setter, a great listen
to a lady who could easily sing jazz and the blues. It's obvious that she had a great persona, a great voice, even
the orchestrations made the moments, along with her. But in the last months of her life, she was taken to Metropolitan
Hospital in New York suffering from liver and heart disease. She was arrested for drug possession (again) as she lay
dying in her hospital room. Under police supervision she remained, until she died from cirrhosis of the liver on
July 17, 1959. Her earnings left her with nothing, as she had seventy cents to her name in her bank account, and a
$750 tabloid fee.
With all her demons in her last years, Miles Davis observed by saying the following, shortly before Billie
Holiday's death: "I'd rather hear her now. She's become much more mature. Sometimes you can sing words every
night for five years, and all of a sudden it dawns on you what the song means. I played 'My Funny Valentine' for a
long time -- and didn't like it -- and all of a sudden it meant something. So with Billie, you know she's not
thinking now what she was in 1937, and she's probably learned more about different things. And she has control,
probably more control now than then. No, I don't think she's in a decline."
The demons affected Billie Holiday's life. They affected Judy Garland's life. Elvis Presley's. Even Stevie
Ray Vaughan's, and too many others music stars names to mention, who succumed to the abuse of drugs and/or alchohol.
We can only imagine, if each and every one of these stars who died from drugs and alcohol would have cleaned up.
At least Stevie Ray Vaughan did, but we all know what happened from that fateful helicopter flight.
Like many who left us behind, Billie Holiday's legacy of music remains with us, and has influenced many music
fans and future musicians who would follow after her. This 2-disc set is a must, for those who are already influenced,
and for those who are just beginning to discover her.
© WSVNRadio.net. All rights reserved.
Review or any portion may not be reproduced
without written permission. Cover art is the
intellectual property of
and is used for reference purposes only.