5 late albums from Billie Holiday – all collected in one sweet set, in tiny LP-styled sleeves, too! First up is Solitude – classic Billie Holiday for Verve – sad, blue-tinged, and recorded with great small combo backing – in a mode that really updates the sound of her initial recordings while still keeping the best elements intact! Players include Oscar Peterson, Alvin Stoller, Barney Kessell, and Ray Brown
on the core group – plus bits of added solo work from Flip Phillips on tenor and Charlie Shavers on trumpet. Titles include "Solitude", "Moonglow", "Tenderly", "Everything I Have Is Yours", "East Of The Sun", "You Turned The Tables On Me", and "Easy To Love". Recital is not really a recital in the "live" sense, in that the album's a studio session – but a great batch of classic Verve sides by Billie Holiday! The care and quality of the record definitely demonstrate that the Verve years are some of Holiday's best – and for the session, Norman Granz has backed up Billie with a great batch of musicians – including Charlie Shavers on trumpet, Flip Philips on tenor, Barney Kessel on guitar, and Oscar Peterson on piano. Tracks include "Remember", "Yesterdays", "He's Funny That Way", "Stormy Weather", "My Man", and "Lover Come Back To Me" – and the cover has a portrait of Billie by David Stone Martin! Velvet Mood is a record with a velvet mood, but one with a bit of an edge – as you might expect from Billie Holiday in the 50s, hardly the stuff of a too-soft vocal date! The album's got Holiday working in wonderful small combo mode – getting some key Verve backup from players who include Sweets Edison on trumept, Benny Carter on alto sax, Barney Kessel on guitar, and Jimmy Rowles on piano – a warmly intimate group who really fit the sad-tinged vocals from Billie. Tracks are longish – maybe a bit more so than usual for a Holiday Verve session – and the set list includes beautiful renditions of "What's New", "I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues", "Prelude To A Kiss", and "When Your Lover Has Gone". Next is Lady Sings The Blues – possibly one of the most essential Billie Holiday albums for Verve – a set that carries the same title as her famous autobiography, and which also features many key numbers from her songbook at the time! The feel here is quite easygoing and relaxed – with small group backing behind Billie's vocals, which themselves are recorded cleanly and clearly throughout. One side features backing by a combo that includes Wynton Kelly on piano, Kenny Burrell on guitar, Charlie Shavers on trumpet, and Paul Quinichette on tenor – and the other features a group that includes Bobby Tucker on piano, Charlie Shavers on trumpet, Barney Kessel on guitar, and the great Willie Smith on alto sax. Titles include plenty of classics – including "God Bless The Child", "Strange Fruit", "Lady Sings The Blues", "No Good Man", "Good Morning Heartache", "I Must Have That Man", and "Trav'lin' Light". All Or Nothing At All is beautiful Billie from the last years of her life. The material was recorded in 1956 and 1957 in Hollywood, featuring Barney Kessel, Ben Wesbster, Harry Edison, and Jimmy Rowles – all grooving nicely in small group formation. The tracks have a wonderfully fragile quality – and although standards, are still some of Billie's nicest work for Verve. Titles include "April In Paris", "All Or Nothing At All", "We'll Be Together Again", and "But Not For Me". Great David Stone Martin cover, too!