BILLIE HOLIDAY -- Songs for Distingue Lovers (Classic Records / Verve)

Ask any Billie Holiday fan to tell you what they consider to be her best material, and they'll most likely say it's the music she recorded for Verve. Producer extraordinaire, Norman Granz always surrounded her with the best players on the jazz scene at the time and this album was no exception. The immaculate sound quality on this album doesn't hurt matters either. From the time your stylus settles into the groove on this vinyl pressing, you can tell you're in for a treat. Originally cut in January 1957, this album sounds like it was recorded yesterday. Surface noise is non-existent.

The bass drum on "Day In, Day Out" is deep and tight, never muddy. Barney Kessel's aggressive guitar work on the track sounds warm and natural. When tenor sax legend Ben Webster's solo comes in, you'll swear he's right there in the room with you. Channel separation on "A Foggy Day" is outstanding. The solos from Kessel, and master pianist Jimmy Rowles, are firmly planted in the left channel. You won't hear a thing out of the right side until trumpet virtuoso Harry "Sweets" Edison comes in.

Edison really stretches out on the classic "One for My Baby," and never sounded better. One of the album's best sounding tracks is "Just One of Those Things." The dynamic range on the entire album is superb, but it really stands out here. Kessel turns in another dazzling solo, as does Rowles. Like all vinyl pressings from Classic, the album features the original labels, and the edges of the album are rounded and smooth. If you're a fan of the great Lady Day, this album (also available on gold CD) is a must for your collection.

© 1997 Steve Marshall