Billie Holiday's late career was marred by the singer's drug abuse, drinking, and relationships with abusive men. However, her voice maintained its edge no matter how fragile it may have become. Lady Sings The Blues was released concurrently with Holiday's autobiography of the same name. Recorded during two sessions in 1956, the album found the singer in top form. It features four new tracks, "Lady Sings the Blues," "Too Marvelous for Words," "Willow Weep for Me," and "I Thought About You," along with fresh recordings of some of Holiday's biggest hits to date. Notable re-recordings include "Trav'lin' Light," "Strange Fruit" and "God Bless the Child." Holiday was joined for these sessions by tenor saxophonist Paul Quinichette, trumpeters Charlie Shavers and Harry Edison, pianist Wynton Kelly, and guitarists Kenny Burrell and Barney Kessel. The group provides the perfectly restrained accompaniment to the singer's bluesy laments. In spite of not sounding like the chipper singer from her 1930s Columbia recordings, many have grown to love Lady Sings The Blues for the smoky raspiness of Holiday's later career voice.
reviewed by Cool Hand 01/2015