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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

Billie Holiday Vol.2
Naxos Jazz Legends 8.120583


  1. Them There Eyes
  2. Body and Soul
  3. Billie's Blues
  4. A Sailboat in the Moonlight
  5. He’s funny That Way
  6. Now They Call it Swing
  7. When A Woman Loves a Man
  8. Any Old Time
  9. You Go to My head
  10. The very Thought of You
  11. I Can’t get started
  12. On the Sentimental side
  13. I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues
  14. Yesterdays
  15. Strange fruit
  16. Fine and mellow
  17. God Bless the Child
  18. Swing, Brother Swing.

Although the personnel varied wildly, all the tracks were originally released as Billy Holiday and her Orchestra, except track 8, which was The Artie Shaw Band.

Billie Holiday (1915 to 1959), together with Ella Fitzgerald, defined the role of the female vocalist in a way that has lasted right up to the present day. Billie’s life started badly and to a great extent then fell away. By the time she was able to have sufficient earnings to live a decent life, she had become a heroin addict as well as suffering from alcohol addiction. She even died in a New York hospital whilst technically under arrest for heroin possession. Despite this rather tragic life Billie was one of the greatest singers that the jazz world has produced and she worked and recorded with all the best musicians on the scene at that time. Bunny Berigan, Artie Shaw, Joe Bushkin, Cozy Cole, Buck Clayton, Ed Hall, Lester Young, Charlie Shavers and Roy Eldridge are just a few of the ‘names’ heard here. Bunny Berigan solos on Billie’s Blues, Lester Young plays a delightful obligato on A Sailboat in the Moonlight, he is even heard on clarinet on track 10, he recorded little on that instrument.

Several of the tracks recorded here made the US best sellers, A Sailboat in the Moonlight, When a Woman Loves a Man, you Go to My Head, God Bless the Child and Any Old Time were all in the charts. Several others have become classics since that time I Can’t Get Started, Strange Fruit and He’s Funny That Way would all fit into that group.

It is said that Billie developed here unique vocal style from listening to Louis Armstrong and the other jazz greats, she is certainly in good company on this selection. As with other releases in this series the re-mastering is very good and the sleeve notes interesting and informative.

Don Mather



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