Billie Holiday – Live at Storyville
(1201 Music – 1999)
by Matt Robinson
Though born in Baltimore, Billie Holiday had strong ties to Massachusetts throughout her career. Her final performance, in fact, took place in Lowell, cradle of the industrial revolution. Long before that tragic set, however, Holiday recorded a series of shows at George Wein’s legendary Boston club Storyville. Though separated by two years, these discreet recordings capture “Lady Day” in prime emotive voice. From the first of Carl Drunkard’s watery piano drops which open “I Cover The Waterfront” to Sten Getz’s peppy sax supports in the abbreviated closer “You’re Driving Me Crazy,” Holiday evokes a wide palette of feels and feelings. “Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do” depicts an eerily realistic abusive relationship with disturbingly defiant laissez faire.
Gershwin’s true classic “I Love You, Porgy,” on the other hand, places Holiday in the position of a lover afraid of losing the one man who treats her right. Along the way, Holiday also cries, creaks and slurs her way through such signatures as “I Only Have Eyes For You,” Johnny Mercer’s “Too Marvelous For Words” and her self-penned “Billie’s Blues.” Despite 24-bit remastering, the recordings retain the production value of their original platters. Even so, the CD is a pleasant and historic record.
©2002, M. S. Robinson, ARR