Billie Holiday – Music For Torching

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  • With excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides, this is a killer copy of one of Billie’s best
  • Not only that, but this pressing plays as quietly as any we can find – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • A superb recording of jazz standards with a great lineup and Billie in top form, as well as Tubey Magical sound, with especially breathy vocals
  • Great versions (and lovely sound) for It Had to Be You, Come Rain or Come Shine, A Fine Romance, and too many more to list
  • “The overall feeling on this 1955 recording… is strictly after-hours: the party is long over but a few close friends remain for nightcaps and, is that the sun peeking through the windows?” — Allmusic

You’d be hard-pressed to find a female vocal album from the 1950s with sound comparable to this one. We just finished up a big shootout for the sublimely titled Music For Torching, and this lovely copy was clearly one of the better pressings we played. If you love smoky jazz standards the way only Lady Day can sing them, we think you’ll be blown away to hear her sound this warm, rich and present.

The formula is simple: Take one of the best female vocalists in the game, back her with a stellar crew of jazzmen and set them loose to knock out incredible versions of classic torch songs — It Had To Be You, A Fine Romance, Come Rain Or Come Shine and so forth.

The good news is that the performances turned out to be some of the best ever recorded by this extraordinary singer, and fortunately for us audiophiles, the mono sound turned out to be dramatically better than we would have expected from Norman Granz’s Verve label in 1955.

Both sides are blessed with the kind of mid-’50’s Tubey Magical Analog Sound that’s been lost to the world of recorded music for decades — decades I tell you!

Nobody can manage to get a recording to sound like this anymore and it seems as if no one can even remaster a recording like this if our direct experience with scores of such albums counts as any sort of evidence.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

The presence and immediacy here are wonderful. Get the volume just right and Lady Day will be standing between your speakers and putting on the performance of a lifetime. This is one of our favorite female vocal albums (along with Clap Hands, Julie Is Her Name, Something Cool and not all that many others) and this amazingly good copy will show you why – the sound and music are superb.

This mono pressing is the only way to find the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from modern records. As good as the best of those pressings may be, this record is dramatically more REAL sounding.

Billie’s no longer a recording — she’s a living, breathing person. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. Her voice is so rich, sweet, and free of artificiality you cannot help but find yourself lost in the music because there’s no “sound” to distract you.

Of Course…

Only the very best pressings show you the real magic that’s on the master tape. I’m pleased to report that these sides have the goods like no Billie Holiday record you have ever heard or your money back.

The All Music Guide User Reviewers put this one at 4 1/2 Stars and we couldn’t agree more. It’s a top quality Billie Holiday album in every way — sound, repertoire and performance — and one that belongs in your collection.

The Players and Personnel

Alto Saxophone – Benny Carter 
Artwork – David Stone Martin 
Bass – John Simmons 
Drums – Larry Bunker 
Guitar – Barney Kessel 
Piano – Jimmy Rowles 
Producer – Norman Granz 
Trumpet – Harry Edison

TRACK LISTING

Side One

It Had to Be You 
Come Rain or Come Shine 
I Don’t Want to Cry Anymore 
I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You

Side Two

A Fine Romance 
Gone With the Wind 
I Get a Kick Out of You 
Isn’t This a Lovely Day

All Music Review

The overall feeling on this 1955 recording, which was originally titled VELVET MOOD, is strictly after-hours: the party is long over but a few close friends remain for nightcaps and, is that the sun peeking through the windows? Producer Norman Granz may or may not have had concept album on his mind. Whatever the case, he brought together a brilliant cross-section of cats who evidently put Billie entirely at ease and in the mood–no small feat when one considers her spotty later recordings.

Lady Day’s renderings here of “It Had to Be You” and “Isn’t This a Lovely Day?” are timeless gems. Other highlights include Harry “Sweets” Edison and Benny Carter taking turns answering Holiday’s vocalizations line by line…