Billie Holiday: I'm a Fool to Want You


I'm a Fool to Want You


Billie Holiday (vocals)


Lady in Satin (Columbia 65144)

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Billie Holiday (vocals),

Ray Ellis Orchestra


Composed by Joel Herron, Frank Sinatra & Jack Wolf


Recorded: New York, February 19-21, 1958


Rating: 81/100 (learn more)

On Billie Holiday's rendition of "I'm a Fool to Want You," a huge discrepancy exists between the quality of the vocal production and the sound of the orchestra, which clashes badly with Holiday's creative, nuanced singing. The orchestra is undynamic and easily forgotten amidst its banal facelessness. In fact, the horns and strings sound recorded at lower fidelity than Holiday's vocals and are easily overlooked when focusing solely on her singing, which was captured well enough to expose many of her most personal nuances. Up close, listeners can hear slow breaths, purposeful flattening of certain notes, and an intimate creative atmosphere for which she alone is responsible. It sounds as if she was having a great day; she obviously enjoyed the tune and was well prepared to interpret it. It fit her style well, and the emotional resonance she displays is tremendous. Her vocals are great, the remastering helps balance things out somewhat, and the song itself is a gem. However, repeated listening does not obscure the fact that the ensemble's lack of personality leaves no impression. If the song's co-writer Frank Sinatra ever heard this cut, he probably loved Billie's vocal while simultaneously bemoaning the weak musical accompaniment.

Reviewer: Marcus Singletary

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Billie Holiday: Rare and Live by Ted Gioia
The Dozens: Twelve Essential Billie Holiday Performances by Stuart Nicholson
”Billie Holiday” by Stuart Nicholson (from The Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians)

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