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Afterglow Jazz and American Popular Song

Billie Holiday: the Decca Years

Billie Holiday's Decca recordings showcased her in larger-ensemble, somewhat more commercial settings, and found Holiday's voice in its prime.

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This week on Afterglow we’ll feature the music of Billie Holiday’s Decca years (1944-1950).

The Decca recordings showcased Holiday in larger-ensemble, somewhat more commercial settings (as opposed to her previous small-group work with jazz greats such as Teddy Wilson and Lester Young); she came to the label via Milt Gabler, who had already recorded her for Commodore Records, and who heard an unrealized pop potential in her work.

This period found Holiday’s voice in its prime, more mature than in her earlier years and not yet affected by the physical damage she’d suffer as time went on. The hit “Loverman” and songs such as “You Better Go Now,” “What Is This Thing Called Love,” “You’re My Thrill,” and a haunting alternate take of “No More” are included in the first and second hours of the program.

We’ll also hear from Nina Simone, Gloria Lynne, Chico Hamilton, and Kenny Garrett, as well as recent releases by singer Meredith D’Ambrosio and guitarist Russell Malone, and a song from the only movie ever based on a story by J.D. Salinger, author of Catcher in the Rye.

You can read more about Billie Holiday here , and you can find Billie-Holiday-related programs in the archives of our Saturday-evening jazz show Night Lights here and here .

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