Billie Holiday

Song for Distingue Lovers

Songs for Distingué Lovers forms part of the last series of extensive small-group recordings that Lady Day would make in the studio. Although her voice was largely shot at this point, she puts so much feeling into the lyrics that it’s easy to overlook her dark sound. The band is a major asset, and made up of all-stars: trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison, tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, pianist Jimmie Rowles, guitarist Barney Kessel, bassist Red Mitchell, and Alvin Stoller or Larry Bunker on drums.

There are plenty of short solos for Edison, Webster, and Kessel. Holiday does her best on such numbers as “A Foggy Day,” “One for My Baby,” “Just One of Those Things,” and “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” and there are plenty of haunting moments, even if one could tell (even at the time) that the end was probably drawing near for the singer. [Some reissues add six songs, doubling the original program, including further recordings made during the same January 1957 sessions.

–AllMusic