Personnel: Billie Holiday (vocals); Budd Johnson, Paul Quinichette (tenor saxophone); Charlie Shavers (trumpet); Tony Scott (clarinet, piano); Wynton Kelly, Billy Taylor (piano); Billy Bauer, Kenny Burrell (guitar); Aaron Bell, Leonard Gaskin (bass); Cozy Cole, Lennie McBrowne (drums).
Producers: Leroy Lovett, Tony Scott.
Compilation producer: Michael Lang.
Recorded at Fine Sound and William And Maely Dufty's Home, New York, New York between February 1955 and June 1956. Includes liner notes by John Chilton.
Digitally remastered by Suha Gur (Polygram Studios).
Contains 20 tracks.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Some Holiday fans embrace the very weariness and faults of her late recordings that others find heartbreaking and disappointing. These sessions from 1955 and 1956 clearly show the results of a life marked by alcohol and drug abuse, horrific love affairs and racism. On such cuts as "Too Marvelous For Words" the contrast between the lyrics and Holiday's heavy-heartedness is disconcerting.
But the juxtaposition works on "I Must Have That Man," where Holiday's interpretations seem to be saying that even good love is tragic. The lynching depicted in "Strange Fruit" is certainly made even more powerful and harrowing by Holiday's slow, wrenching delivery. In 1959, Holiday would die with 70 cents in her bank account. LADY SINGS THE BLUES is the soundtrack for those final, troubled years.