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Billie Holiday: Last Recordings

Album Notes

Personnel includes: Billie Holiday (vocals); Ray Ellis (conductor); Romeo Penque (alto & tenor saxophones, bass clarinet); Gene Quill (alto saxophone); Al Cohn (tenor saxophone); Danny Bank (baritone saxophone); Harry Edison, Joe Wilder (trumpet); Jimmy Cleveland, Billy Byers (trombone); Janey Putnam (harp); Hank Jones (piano); Kenny Burrell, Barry Galbraith (guitar); Joe Benjamin, Milt Hinton (bass); Osie Johnson (drums).

Recorded in New York, New York on March 3, 4 & 11, 1959. Includes liner notes by Leonard Feather.

Digitally remastered by Dennis Drake (Polygram Studios).

As both the album's title and mournful cover imply, Billie Holiday's LAST RECORDING is a somber affair. Even on rather upbeat tunes such as Cole Porter's "All of You," there's an inherent sadness present in Lady Day's voice beyond her usual melancholy tone. By this point in time, drug abuse had taken a heavy toll on Holiday, and her exhaustion is evident in the recordings. Still, she gives these songs her all, aided by Ray Ellis' proficient orchestra that includes luminaries like Harry "Sweets" Edison, Hank Jones, Kenny Burrell, and Milt Hinton. Holiday's weary voice works well on "All the Way," "I'll Never Smile Again," and "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" (made famous by one of her heroes, Louis Armstrong). When she sings "Don't Worry About Me," Holiday is in top form, and it's as if she were delivering her own eulogy, both heart-breakingly sad and utterly beautiful.


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