Billie Holiday – Lady In Satin (Full Album)

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Lady in Satin is an album by jazz singer Billie Holiday released in 1958 on Columbia Records, catalogue CL 1157 in mono and CS 8048 in stereo. It is the penultimate album completed by the singer and last released in her lifetime (her final album, Last Recording, being recorded in March 1959 and released just after her death).

For the majority of the 1950s, Billie Holiday was signed to jazz producer Norman Granz’s Clef Records, which was later absorbed into the newly founded Verve Records by 1956. All of her work for Norman Granz consisted of small jazz combos, reuniting her with musicians she recorded with back in the 1930s when she made her first recordings with Teddy Wilson. There were talks in the early 1950s of Holiday making albums, or songbooks, dedicated to composers such as George and Ira Gershwin and Jerome Kern, but they fell through and ended up going to Ella Fitzgerald when she signed to Verve. By 1957, Holiday had recorded twelve albums for Granz and was unhappy. Therefore, she decided not to renew her contract.

By October 1957, Holiday contacted Columbia producer Irving Townsend and expressed interest in recording with bandleader Ray Ellis after listening to his album Ellis in Wonderland. Originally, she wanted to do an album with bandleader Nelson Riddle after hearing his arrangements for Frank Sinatra’s albums, particularly In the Wee Small Hours, but after hearing Ellis’ version of “For All We Know”, she wanted to record with him. When Holiday came to Townsend about the album, he was surprised:

“ It would be like Ella Fitzgerald saying that she wanted to record with Ray Conniff. But she said she wanted a pretty album, something delicate. She said this over and over. She thought it would be beautiful. She wasn’t interested in some wild swinging jam session…She wanted that cushion under her voice. She wanted to be flattered by that kind of sound. ”
Townsend got in touch with Ellis about the album. Ellis, having heard of Holiday’s work throughout the 1930s and 1940s, was excited for the project, saying “I couldn’t believe it…I didn’t know she was aware of me.” Townsend arranged a meeting for both Holiday and Ellis to sign a contract with Columbia. Columbia provided an unlimited budget for the album. The musicians in the orchestra were paid $60 for the three sessions and Holiday was paid $150 per side in advance. Townsend went on to set up the recording dates for late February 1958 (Wikipedia).

AllMusic Review by Rovi Staff:
This was Billie Holiday’s penultimate album, recorded when her body was telling her enough was enough. During the sessions with arranger Ray Ellis she was drinking vodka neat, as if it were tap water. Despite her ravaged voice (the sweetness had long gone), she was still an incredible singer. The feeling and tension she manages to put into almost every track set this album as one of her finest achievements. “You’ve Changed” and “I Get Along Without You Very Well” are high art performances from the singer who saw life from the bottom up.

Track listing:
LP Side One

“I’m a Fool to Want You” (Frank Sinatra, Joel Herron, Jack Wolf) – 3:23
“For Heaven’s Sake” (Elise Bretton, Sherman Edwards, Donald Meyer) – 3:26
“You Don’t Know What Love Is” (Gene DePaul, Don Raye) – 3:48
“I Get Along Without You Very Well” (Hoagy Carmichael) – 2:59
“For All We Know” (J. Fred Coots, Sam M. Lewis) – 2:53
“Violets for Your Furs” (Tom Adair, Matt Dennis) – 3:24
LP Side Two

“You’ve Changed” (Bill Carey, Carl T. Fischer) – 3:17
“It’s Easy to Remember” (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers) – 4:01
“But Beautiful” (w. Johnny Burke, m. Jimmy Van Heusen) – 4:29
“Glad to Be Unhappy” (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers) – 4:07
“I’ll Be Around” (Alec Wilder) – 3:23
“The End of a Love Affair” (Edward Redding) – 4:46

Performers and musicians
Billie Holiday – lead vocals
Ray Ellis – conductor
Claus Ogermann – arranger
George Ockner – violin and concertmaster
Emmanual Green, violin
Harry Hoffman, violin
Harry Katzmann, violin
Leo Kruczek, violin
Milton Lomask, violin
Harry Meinikoff, violin
David Newman, violin
Samuel Rand, violin
David Sarcer, violin
Sid Brecher, viola
Richard Dichler, viola
David Soyer, cello
Maurice Brown, cello
Janet Putman, harp
Danny Bank, flute
Phil Bodner, flute
Romeo Penque, flute
Tom Parshley, flute
Mel Davis, trumpet (solos on “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “But Beautiful”)
Billy Butterfield, trumpet
Jimmy Ochner, trumpet
Bernie Glow, trumpet
J.J. Johnson, trombone (solo on “Glad to be Unhappy and “I Get Along Without you (Except Sometimes)”)
Urbie Green, trombone (solos on “I’m a Fool to Want You” and “It’s Easy to Remember”)
Jack Green, trombone
Tommy Mitchell, bass trombone
Mal Waldron, piano
Barry Galbraith, guitar
Milt Hinton, bass
Osie Johnson, drums
Elise Bretton, backing vocals
Miriam Workman, backing vocals


Released: June 1958
Recorded: 19–21 February 1958
Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York City, New York
Length: 44:36
Label: Columbia
Producer: Irving Townsend