Billie Holiday

God Bless the Child: The Very Best of Billie Holiday

by Robert R. Calder

15 November 2006

 

Like the Basie selection in the same series, this set begs comparison with and idiotically overlaps a CD in the Jazz Moods series. The Very Best of is certainly a misnomer for nonetheless a selection of all very good music. Many titles are by the Teddy Wilson studio groups Holiday sang with—“God Bless the Child” and “Billie’s Blues” (Bunny Berigan on trumpet, Artie Shaw clarinet, Joe Bushkin piano) are two of the three under her own name for Columbia labels, the remainder being from the independent Commodore label sessions during which “Strange Fruit” was recorded. On “I Cried for You” Wilson’s pick-up band is distinguished by the alto saxophone of Johnny Hodges from Ellington, his bandmate and fellow giant Harry Carney on baritone, and Jonah Jones on trumpet as well as Wilson and Fletcher Henderson’s current rhythm section. Great musicians, pre-tragic pre-dark Holiday. If you want 14 titles by the great jazz singer in her early to middle 20s with some of the best jazz musicians of the day, that’s what this is. Just like the too nearly identical set in Legacy’s Jazz Moods series.

God Bless the Child: The Very Best of Billie Holiday

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