Billie Holiday: What's New
Billie Holiday (vocals)
Music for Torching (Verve MGV 8026)
Composed by Bob Haggart & Johnny Burke.
Recorded: Los Angeles, August 25, 1955
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Do you prefer to take your Holiday earlier or later? Hard choice . . . The early Billie Holiday sings with more pop song panache and surface polish. Take a later Holiday, and the terrain is rougher, the emotional landscape dangerous but perhaps even more alluring. I tend to give the highest marks to the early collaborations between Billie and Lester Young, musical gems that will delight listeners a hundred years hence. But you could make a good case for the later Holiday on the basis of this poignant ballad. "What's New" was a perfect vehicle for Billie Holiday, circa 1955, a love song meant to be sung by a world-weary woman looking back on her past. Lady Day delivers a raw and beautiful performance, full of dark shadows. Benny Carter's fine sax solo, a sweeter take on the changes, offers just the right contrast.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia
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