In a move that is both marketing-savvy and consumer-friendly, Sony Legacy has broken out thematic single-disc anthologies from its recent Grammy Award-winning deluxe boxed sets devoted to jazz immorta

BILLIE HOLIDAY & LESTER YOUNG
A Musical Romance
COMPILATION PRODUCER: Jeff Rosen
ORIGINAL PRODUCERS: John Hammond, Bernie Hanighen, Irving Townsend
Columbia/Legacy CK

LOUIS ARMSTRONG
Satch Blows the Blues

In a move that is both marketing-savvy and consumer-friendly, Sony Legacy has broken out thematic single-disc anthologies from its recent Grammy Award-winning deluxe boxed sets devoted to jazz immortals Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. From the 10-CD Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia, 1933-44 come the compilations Billie Holiday & Lester Young: A Musical Romance, Blue Billie, and Lady Day Swings! From the four-CD Louis Armstrong: The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings comes the very handy 18-track Best of the Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings; a smart companion to that disc is Satch Blows the Blues. This features not only a couple of key mid-'20s Hot Five numbers (such as Armstrong's stratospheric trumpet fest "West End Blues") but also several blues tunes from late-'20s big-band sessions (a definitive take on Fats Waller's "Black and Blue") and classic turns with his All-Stars group from the famous album Satch Plays W.C. Handy (including "Beale Street Blues"). Released along with the Holiday boxed set was a nicely produced two-disc Best of Billie Holiday on Columbia, so early-bird fans might not need to revisit this material; yet the new, thematic compilations offer more concentrated, enjoyable listening. The pick of these surveys is the 16-cut Billie Holiday & Lester Young: A Musical Romance, which details the soul-mate partnership the iconic vocalist had with the great tenor saxophone stylist Young. He famously nicknamed her "Lady Day," and she dubbed him the "President"—or "Prez." Neither of these sublime artists and equally tragic figures sounded as happy or as much like themselves as when they were together. Such sides as "The Man I Love," "He's Funny That Way," and even a latter-day "Fine and Mellow" are slow-burn romantic masterpieces unparalleled in American popular music. Each of these sets has been impeccably compiled, remastered, illustrated, and annotated. They attest to Legacy's great taste in making available historic music from the Columbia vaults in packages for nearly every imaginable consumer interest and price point. Nobody does it better.—BB

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print