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Complete Commodore & Decca Masters

The Complete Commodore & Decca Masters

by Billie Holiday

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Although many of Billie Holiday's recordings for Commodore and Decca are often overlooked -- at least in comparison to the songs that bookend her career (for Columbia and Verve) -- they include some of her best work, beginning at the end of the '30s with "Strange Fruit" and stretching to the end of the '40s with "God Bless the Child." In 1939, Billie Holiday was a


Although many of Billie Holiday's recordings for Commodore and Decca are often overlooked -- at least in comparison to the songs that bookend her career (for Columbia and Verve) -- they include some of her best work, beginning at the end of the '30s with "Strange Fruit" and stretching to the end of the '40s with "God Bless the Child." In 1939, Billie Holiday was a jazz sensation without a hit record. She gained that hit record, and began her journey to musical immortality, when her label Columbia refused to record "Strange Fruit," and jazz fan Milt Gabler welcomed her to his aficionado label, Commodore. Gabler recorded Holiday often over the next ten years, both at Commodore and through his work at Decca in the mid-to late '40s. While on Commodore, Holiday focused on downcast ballads, including "I Cover the Waterfront" and "I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues" (dubbed "loser" songs by Gabler), but she also excelled with warm and affectionate material too, "Embraceable You" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street." Regardless of the material, her backing consisted of small groups usually led by a pair of saloon-sound maestros: Doc Cheatham on trumpet and Eddie Heywood on piano. That sound was in for a switch when Holiday moved to Decca, however, beginning with another big hit, "Lover Man," a pop ballad with the full crossover treatment -- strings and all. (Gabler had no compunction about false notions of purity, and he happily recorded Holiday with strings and backing choruses whenever the song demanded it.) Even more than her work for Commodore, Holiday's work for Decca was melancholy and resigned in the extreme, with sterling treatments of yet more loser songs: "Don't Explain," "Good Morning Heartache," "You Better Go Now," and "What Is This Thing Called Love." Individually, the songs are excellent, and as a package, The Complete Commodore & Decca Masters can hardly be beat. It's a splendid accompaniment to similar sets devoted to Billie Holiday's Columbia and Verve output, and while completists will bemoan the lack of the many alternate takes -- most of the Commodore sides have two alternate takes for each master recording, available elsewhere -- this is all the war-years Billie Holiday one could hope for.

Product Details

Release Date:
Hip-O Select


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Billie Holiday   Primary Artist,Vocals
Buck Clayton   Trumpet
Tiny Grimes   Guitar
Bobby Hackett   Trumpet
Eddie Heywood   Piano
Budd Johnson   Tenor Saxophone
Mundell Lowe   Guitar
Specs Powell   Drums
Tab Smith   Alto Saxophone
Lester Young   Tenor Saxophone
Eddie Barefield   Clarinet,Baritone Saxophone
Billy Butterfield   Trumpet
Cozy Cole   Drums
Bob Haggart   Bass
Horace Henderson   Piano
Klink   Alto Saxophone
Carl Kress   Guitar
Bernie Leighton   Piano
Johnny Mince   Alto Saxophone
Frankie Newton   Trumpet
George Wettling   Drums
Bob Bain   Guitar
Stan Webb   Baritone Saxophone
George Duvivier   Bass
Louis Armstrong   Vocals
Everett Barksdale   Guitar
Tom Barney   Bass
Joe Benjamin   Bass
Emmett Berry   Trumpet
Denzil Best   Drums
Larry Binyon   Tenor Saxophone
Wallace Bishop   Drums
Johnny Blowers   Guitar,Drums
Toots Camarata   Guitar
Russ Case   Trumpet
Big Sid Catlett   Drums
Henderson Chambers   Trombone
Doc Cheatham   Trumpet
Kenny Clarke   Drums
Shad Collins   Trumpet
Sid Cooper   Alto Saxophone
Jimmy Crawford   Drums
Lem Davis   Alto Saxophone
Vic Dickenson   Trombone
Bob Dorsey   Tenor Saxophone
George Dorsey   Alto Saxophone
Eddie Dougherty   Drums
Nick Fatool   Drums
Joe Guy   Trumpet
Leo Kruczek   Violin
Billy Kyle   Piano
Jack Lesberg   Bass
Kelly Martin   Drums
George Matthews   Trombone
Nuncio "Toots" Mondello   Alto Saxophone
Sol Moore   Baritone Saxophone
Tony Mottola   Guitar
Jimmy Nottingham   Trumpet
Rudy Powell   Alto Saxophone
Bernie Privin   Trumpet
Hymie Schertzer   Alto Saxophone
Jimmy Shirley   Guitar
John Simmons   Bass
Bill Stegmeyer   Clarinet,Strings,Alto Saxophone
Bobby Tucker   Piano
Dick Vance   Trumpet
Teddy Walters   Guitar
Dicky Wells   Trombone
Sonny White   Piano
John Williams [double bass]   Bass
Shadow Wilson   Drums
Milt Yaner   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Paul Ricci   Tenor Saxophone
Kenneth Hollon   Tenor Saxophone
Kurt Reher   Cello
Sammy Benskin   Piano
Tony Faso   Trumpet
John Fulton   Clarinet,Flute,Tenor Saxophone
Bernard Kaufman   Tenor Saxophone
Charlie LaVere   Piano
Maurice Perlmutter   Viola
Joe Springer   Piano
George Stevenson   Trombone
Gordon Jenkins & His Orchestra   Strings,Conductor
Billy Taylor   Bass
Morris Lefkowitz   Violin
Daniel Perry   Guitar
Rostelle Reese   Trumpet
Armand Camgros   Tenor Saxophone
Jimmy McLin   Guitar
Haig Stephens   Bass
Stanley Payne   Tenor Saxophone
Jack Cressey   Alto Saxophone
Dick "Dent" Eckles   Flute,Tenor Saxophone
Pat Nizza   Tenor Saxophone
George Serloff   Violin
Art Drellinger   Tenor Saxophone
Freddie Williams   Tenor Saxophone
David Friscina   Violin
Charles Jaffe   Violin
Gordon Griffith   Trumpet
Frank Siefiels   Violin
Louis Butterman   Bass
Armand Kaproff   Viola
Gordon Jenkins Singers   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

George Gershwin   Composer
Sigmund Romberg   Composer
Leonard Feather   Composer
Eddie Heywood   Arranger
Bob Haggart   Arranger,Director
Irving Mills   Composer
Sy Oliver   Arranger,Director
Jimmy McHugh   Composer
Harold Arlen   Composer
Dorothy Parker   Composer
Jerome Kern   Composer
Fred E. Ahlert   Composer
Louis Armstrong   Duet
Billie Holiday   Composer
Sonny Burke   Producer
Toots Camarata   Arranger,Director
Eddie DeLange   Composer
Ervin Drake   Composer
Duke Ellington   Composer
Sammy Fain   Composer
Dorothy Fields   Composer
Milt Gabler   Producer
Ira Gershwin   Composer
Porter Grainger   Composer
Oscar Hammerstein   Composer
E.Y. "Yip" Harburg   Composer
Edward Heyman   Composer
Isham Jones   Composer
Irving Kahal   Composer
Gus Kahn   Composer
Cole Porter   Composer
Roger "Ram" Ramirez   Composer
Alan Roberts   Composer
Leo Robin   Composer
Bob Russell   Composer
Carl Sigman   Composer
John Simmons   Director
Bill Stegmeyer   Director
Marty Symes   Composer
Roy Turk   Composer
Spencer Williams   Composer
Jack King   Composer
Jimmy Sherman   Composer
Gordon Jenkins & His Orchestra   Arranger,Director
Buster Harding   Director
Ralph Blane   Composer
Arthur Johnston   Composer
Max Kortlander   Composer
Don Peterson   Photo Courtesy
Sam Coslow   Composer
Ted Koehler   Composer
Tom Adair   Composer
Richard A. Whiting   Composer
Harry Akst   Composer
Sidney Clare   Composer
Neil Moret (Chas. N. Daniels)   Composer
Louis Alter   Composer
Jacques Charles   Composer
Dan Fisher   Composer
Doris Fisher   Composer
Sammy Gallop   Composer
Jay Gorney   Composer
Irene Higginbotham   Composer
Everett Robbins   Composer
Doris Tauber   Composer
William Tracey   Composer
Maurice Yvain   Composer
Frank Reardon   Composer
Ernest Schweikert   Composer
Arnold Clawson   Composer
George Cory   Composer
Douglass Cross   Composer
Albert Williametz   Composer
Ashley Kahn   Liner Notes
Robert Graham   Composer
Ryan Null   Photo Coordination
Michele Horie   Art Direction
Morton Krouse   Composer
Toussaint Pope   Composer
Lewis Allan   Composer

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