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Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia 1933�1944

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Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia 1933-1944
Box set by Billie Holiday
Released October 2, 2001
Recorded November 1933 to
January 1944
Genre Jazz
Length 11:21:57
Label Legacy Recordings
Producer Michael Brooks
Michael Cuscuna
Billie Holiday chronology
Lady Day: The Best of Billie Holiday
(2001) Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia 1933�1944
(2001) A Musical Romance
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[1]
Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia 1933�1944 is a box set ten-disc
compilation of the complete known studio master recordings, plus alternate takes,
of Billie Holiday during the time period indicated, released in 2001 on
Columbia/Legacy, CXK 85470. Designed like an album of 78s, the medium in which
these recordings initially appeared, the 10.5" � 12" box includes 230 tracks, a
116-page booklet with extensive photos, a song list, discography, essays by Michael
Brooks, Gary Giddins, and Farah Jasmine Griffin, and an insert of appreciations for
Holiday from a diversity of figures including Tony Bennett, Elvis Costello,
Marianne Faithfull, B.B. King, Abbey Lincoln, Jill Scott, and Lucinda Williams. At
the 44th Grammy Awards on February 27, 2002, the box set won the Grammy Award for
Best Historical Album of the previous year.

Contents [hide]
1 History
2 Content
3 Significance
4 Select collective personnel
5 Reissue personnel
6 Track listing
6.1 Disc One
6.2 Disc Two
6.3 Disc Three
6.4 Disc Four
6.5 Disc Five
6.6 Disc Six
6.7 Disc Seven
6.8 Disc Eight
6.9 Disc Nine
6.10 Disc Ten
7 Charts
8 References
These recordings were made in a time before the LP album, introduced by Columbia
Records in 1948. Starting at approximately the turn of the 19th century into the
20th, recorded music arrived on the market in the form of a ten-inch gramophone
record that played at 78 revolutions per minute, two songs of generally no more
than four minutes duration per side. The advent of radio increased demand for
recorded music played in the home through the 1920s. However, during the Great
Depression, home record sales decreased dramatically, but a relatively viable
market still existed for the inexpensive play of records in jukeboxes, which had
proliferated during the 1920s and 1930s. Initially, these records featuring Billie
Holiday were made with that market in mind.

John Hammond, who had discovered Holiday singing in a Harlem jazz club in 1933,
arranged for her first recording session that same year on November 27. In the
company of Jack Teagarden, Gene Krupa, and Hammond's future brother-in-law Benny
Goodman, the two sides with Holiday would be released under Goodman's name. A
little over nineteen months later, Holiday would be in another New York studio for
her second session in association with Goodman again, as well as Ben Webster and
Cozy Cole, under the leadership of Teddy Wilson. From July 2, 1935, through August
7, 1941, Holiday would regularly record, for commercial issue, 78s credited to
herself or to Wilson.

With a few exceptions, these records were originally released on labels other than
Columbia which catered to an African American market, then referred to as race
records. The labels Brunswick Records and Vocalion Records became fellow companies
to Columbia when it was purchased in 1934 by the American Record Corporation, which
had owned Brunswick and Vocalion since late 1931. Records credited to Wilson were
released on Brunswick; those to Holiday on Vocalion. With the purchase of ARC in
1939 by CBS, the corporation re-organized its record labels under the aegis of
Columbia as the parent company. Starting in 1940, the Holiday releases were issued
on the Okeh Records imprint, reactivated by CBS to handle its product for the "race
record" market.

Discs one through six, and disc seven tracks one through fourteen present the
master takes in chronological recorded order. The remainder of disc seven, and
discs eight through ten, present the alternate takes and other items, also in
chronological recorded order. The other items consist of eight tracks not part of
the general body of Wilson/Holiday recordings from 1935 to 1941. The first, track
15 of disc seven "Saddest Tale" with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, was taken from
the soundtrack to the movie short Symphony in Black by Paramount Pictures in 1935.
Disc eight, tracks three through five, contain airchecks with the Count Basie
Orchestra from 1937, the only documentation of Holiday's year-long tenure as
Basie's band singer. Disc nine, tracks seven and eight, feature recordings
broadcast on the Camel Caravan radio variety program of January 17, 1939; with
backing by the Benny Goodman Orchestra, Billie sings alongside Johnny Mercer,
Martha Tilton, and Leo Watson on the second song, Mercer's "Jeepers Creepers".

The final two tracks of the set, numbers 22 and 23 of disc ten, are from the
Esquire Award Winners Concert at the Metropolitan Opera, broadcast and recorded on
V-Discs for distribution to servicemen fighting overseas during World War II.
Holiday had won top female jazz vocalist for 1943, and became the first African-
American woman to sing at the Met. "Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me" and "Billie's
Blues," under a different title, are performed accompanied by other Esquire poll
winners, Roy Eldridge, Barney Bigard, Art Tatum, Al Casey, Oscar Pettiford, and
Sidney Catlett. This recording took place more than two years after the final
studio session in 1941, and during the Petrillo recording ban; the AFM waived the
strike terms for the recording of V-discs.

Original recording sessions took place at the following locations in New York City:
at the 55 Fifth Avenue Studio on November 27, 1933; at the 1776 Broadway Studio
from 1935 through January 1939; at the 711 Fifth Avenue Studio from March 1939
through June 1940; at Liederkranz Hall on East 58th Street in September and October
1940; and at Columbia Studios in their new headquarters at 799 Seventh Avenue in
1941. Known producers for the original recordings are John Hammond and Bernie

In terms of a collected body of work combining both influence and quality of
achievement, these recordings are some of the most important in jazz history.
Ranking jazz records always presents an exercise in both controversy and
consternation, but certainly the Wilson/Holiday sides belong in the company of the
Hot Five and Hot Sevens of Louis Armstrong, the collated set by Fletcher Henderson
later called A Study In Frustration, the early Basie band on Decca, Duke
Ellington's records with Ben Webster and Jimmy Blanton for RCA Victor, the Charlie
Parker bebop sides for Savoy and Dial, and the Atlantic LPs by Ornette Coleman, not
to mention the expanse of albums by Miles Davis and John Coltrane, together and

The sessions coincide with the rise of the swing era on its way to becoming the
popular music of the United States during the late Depression and war years. Chosen
by Hammond, Hanighen, Holiday, or Wilson, many of the musicians present derived
from the top swing bands of the day, such as those by Ellington, Basie, Goodman,
Artie Shaw, Jimmie Lunceford, and Cab Calloway, among others. Of special note are
the records cut with members of the Basie band, Holiday herself hired by Basie in
1937, including his fabulous rhythm section of Freddie Green, Walter Page, and Jo
Jones, along with key soloists Buck Clayton and Holiday's musical soul-mate, Lester
Young. The roster of Holiday and Wilson sidemen reads like a who's who of jazz
soloists from the 1930s, many of whom would be of great influence to later styles
of bebop, cool jazz, third stream, virtually every aspect of jazz through the

Like Armstrong's Hot Five aggregations and The Beatles after 1966, the various
bands assembled were purely creatures of the studio, although some sessions
featured principally members of Basie's touring band, accustomed to playing
together regularly on the road. The sessions acted as a workshop, allowing
musicians who usually did not intermix professionally outside of cutting contests
to exchange ideas. As has been remarked upon by numerous critics and jazz scholars,
the special appeal of Holiday in this setting derived from her fitting in with the
other musicians as a musician, taking her solo with the rest of them. General
practice of the day dictated that the song be paramount, musicians subservient to
the band arrangement or the singing star. Producers Hammond and Hanighen, both
aligned more to the artistic than the business of end of jazz, encouraged the
musicians rather to play as they wished. The results over six years offered a
textbook in swing jazz played by small groups in a relaxed yet committed fashion.

As a singer, Holiday had influence on defining the style of a big band vocalist
after that of Bing Crosby and her role model, Louis Armstrong. Her records appeared
just as the swing era was getting underway; subsequently, singers such as Ella
Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Anita O'Day, Peggy Lee, and Doris Day, for instance,
starting out with the bands of Chick Webb, Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman,
and Les Brown, all found inspiration in the Holiday records on Brunswick and
Vocalion. Her manipulation of rhythm and length of musical phrases, allied to her
ability to find emotional resonance in songs, was acknowledged publicly as a
template by singers from her own era, Sinatra, Lee, Bennett, and others, and by
myriad singers in later eras. As stated by Gary Giddins in the liner notes to the
box set:

"When I first got to know ["A Sailboat in the Moonlight"], I thought it a fine
melody with pretty chord changes and words that might be corny but didn't seem to
be so bad when Lady Day delivered them. Then I chanced to find the sheet music at a
Midwestern bazaar; at home, I picked out the melody with one finger and was
astonished at how different it was from what Holiday sang. Until that moment, I had
not fully gauged how freely imaginative her embellishments could be. By ironing out
a phrase here, retarding another there, raising this note, slurring that, she
transformed a hopelessly banal and predictable melody into something personal,
real, meaningful."[2]
That Sony would lavish such an expensive box for recordings originally designed for
the inexpensive medium of jukebox play from six to seven decades previously stands
as testament to the staying power of this body of work.

Select collective personnel[edit]

Billie Holiday � vocal
Teddy Wilson � piano
Bobby Hackett - cornet
Henry "Red" Allen - trumpet
Bunny Berigan - trumpet
Buck Clayton - trumpet
Harry "Sweets" Edison - trumpet
Roy Eldridge - trumpet
Chris Griffin - trumpet
Harry James - trumpet
Jonah Jones - trumpet
Hot Lips Page - trumpet
Charlie Shavers - trumpet
Cootie Williams - trumpet
Benny Morton - trombone
Dicky Wells - trombone
Trummy Young - trombone
Buster Bailey - clarinet
Benny Goodman - clarinet
Vido Musso - clarinet
Edgar Sampson - clarinet, alto saxophone
Artie Shaw - clarinet
Tab Smith - soprano saxophone, alto saxophone
Benny Carter - alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
Johnny Hodges - alto saxophone
Don Redman - alto saxophone