The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve (1945-1959)

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COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Verve
WORKS: jazz
PERFORMER: Billie Holiday
CATALOGUE NO: 314 513 859-2 (Limited edition)

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Here we have two sumptuous packages covering virtually the whole output of the most revered and sublime jazz singer – Billie Holiday (1915-1959). The Columbia collection deals with the years 1933-42 (with a couple of tracks from 1958 thrown in), which was her golden period and includes her most beautiful recordings with Teddy Wilson and Lester Young.

A 52-page illustrated booklet gives her biography and details of the recording sessions. The Verve boxed set charts her career from the mid-Forties, when though a heroin addict she was still at the height of her powers, to her tragic decline and death at the age of 44.

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There is a wealth of new material including two CDs of actual rehearsal sessions with conversation and anecdotes, tracks from concert performances, and previously unpublished photographs. These two boxed sets brilliantly document the triumphs and tragedy of this 20th-century icon. Ian Carr