JJ 03/59: Billie Holiday

First published Jazz Journal, March 1959


Having had the original version of “Strange Fruit” in my possession for almost 20 years, I find it difficult not to be prejudiced against this recently recorded performance of the song with which Billie has become indelibly identified.

If you are not lucky enough to possess the old Commodore version, then I can recommend this record, although it lacks the freshness, and the deep sincerity of the original.

Nor do I like the accompaniment as well, but Billie is probably about the only singer today who can give this sociologically significant song the build-up in performance or impact which it needs.

The reverse is excellent and is Billie singing in the style and mood of her successful mainstream jazz performances of the middle and late thirties. If you like Billie, and there can be few jazz lovers who don’t, then you’ll certainly want this.
Peter Tanner

Strange Fruit; No Good Man
Billie Holiday, with: Charlie Shavers (tpt); Tony Scott (clt); Paul Quinichette (ten); Aaron Bell (bs): Kenny Burrel (gtr): Wynton Kelly (p); Lennie McBrowne (d).
Columbia LB 10093. 78 rpm. 7s. 4d.