0016. Billie Holiday – Lady In Satin [1958]


I don’t know much about Billie Holiday, but every song I’ve heard of hers has been absolutely beautiful.  I can’t imagine her having made a bad album.  I do feel confident that she was most likely an inspiration for some of my favorite female vocalists like Beth Gibbons of Portishead, Free Dominguez of Kidneythieves, Lana Del Rey, and probably many others.

This album, like the others I’ve heard, doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.  If you like jazz and/or trip-hop, you’ll most likely enjoy this album.  If you want to give it a listen, click the picture above to be taken to my podcast site where you can listen to it in its entirety.

Here’s what Wiki has to say about this album:

Wikipedia Says:

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, Billie Holiday, being recorded in March 1959 and released just after her death). The original album was produced by Irving Townsend, and engineered by Fred Plaut.


The song material for Lady in Satin derived from the usual sources for Holiday in her three decade career, that of the Great American Songbook of classic pop. Unlike the bulk of Holiday’s recordings, rather than in the setting of a jazz combo Holiday returns to the backdrop of full orchestral arrangements as done during her Decca years, this time in the contemporary vein of Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald on her Songbooks series. The album consists of songs Holiday had never recorded before.[1]

The arrangements were by bandleader Ray Ellis, Holiday familiar with his Ellis in Wonderland album.[1] Soloists on the album included Mel Davis, Urbie Green, and bebop trombone pioneer J.J. Johnson. The song “The End of a Love Affair” did not appear on the stereo release, CS 8048, the final track of side two being “I’ll Be Around”.


Reaction to the album has been mixed. Holiday’s voice had lost much of its upper range in her 40s, although she still retained her rhythmic phrasing. The Penguin Guide to Jazz gave the album a three-star rating of a possible four stars, but expressed a basic reservation about the album, describing it as “a voyeuristic look at a beaten woman.”[2]

However, trumpeter Buck Clayton preferred the work of the later Holiday to that of the younger woman that he had often worked with in the 1930s.[3] Ray Ellis said of the album in 1997:

I would say that the most emotional moment was her listening to the playback of “I’m a Fool to Want You”. There were tears in her eyes…After we finished the album I went into the control room and listened to all the takes. I must admit I was unhappy with her performance, but I was just listening musically instead of emotionally. It wasn’t until I heard the final mix a few weeks later that I realized how great her performance really was.[4]

Lady in Satin was reissued by Legacy Records on September 23, 1997,remastering using 20-bit technology with four bonus tracks. Reissue producer Phil Schaap located the unused master tape for the stereo version of “The End of A Love Affair,” and included a stereo mix of the “I’m a Fool to Want You” take which had been used on the mono LP. Lady in Satin was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000.[5]

Known personnel

  • Billie Holiday, vocal
  • Ray Ellis, arranger and conductor
  • George Ockner, violin and concertmaster
  • David Soyer, cello
  • Janet Putnam, harp
  • Danny Bank, flute
  • Phil Bodner, flute
  • Romeo Penque, flute
  • Mel Davis, trumpet
  • J.J. Johnson, trombone
  • Urbie Green, trombone
  • Tom Mitchell, trombone
  • Mal Waldron, piano
  • Barry Galbraith, guitar
  • Milt Hinton, bass
  • Osie Johnson, drums
  • Elise Bretton, backing vocals
  • Miriam Workman, backing vocals

Track listing

Side one

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

Side two

  1. “You’ve Changed” (Bill Carey, Carl T. Fischer)  – 3:17
  2. “It’s Easy to Remember” (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers)  – 4:01
  3. “But Beautiful” (w. Johnny Burke, m. Jimmy Van Heusen)  – 4:29
  4. “Glad to Be Unhappy” (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers)  – 4:07
  5. “I’ll Be Around” (Alec Wilder)  – 3:23
  6. “The End of a Love Affair” (Edward Redding)  – 4:46 [mono CL 1157 only]

Bonus tracks 1997 reissue

  1. “I’m a Fool to Want You” [take 3 stereo]  – 3:24
  2. “I’m a Fool to Want You” [take 2]  – 3:23
  3. “The End of a Love Affair” The Audio Story  – 9:49
  4. “The End of a Love Affair” [stereo]  – 4:46
  5. [Pause Track] – 0:06

Additional tracks not released by Columbia or Legacy

Roughly seventy minutes worth of material – including thirteen complete tracks, incomplete tracks, studio chatter, breakdowns, false starts and warm ups – exists from these sessions. All of it (except for those fragments without Billie Holiday) has been released by Michael Fontannes on his Kangourou/Masters of Jazz Label.[6]

  1. “You Don’t Know What Love Is” (take 1) [Complete Take] – 3:41
  2. “You Don’t Know What Love Is (take 3) [Incomplete Take] – 1:10
  3. “I’ll Be Around” (take 2) [Complete Take] – 3:26
  4. “I’ll Be Around (take 3) [False Start] – :35
  5. “I’ll Be Around (take 4) [Complete] – 3:30
  6. “I’ll Be Around (take 5) [False Start] – :32
  7. “I’ll Be Around (take 6) [False Start] – :17
  8. “I’ll Be Around (chatter) – :31
  9. “For Heaven’s Sake (take 1) [Complete] – 3:29
  10. “For Heaven’s Sake (take 2-chatter) – :21
  11. “But Beautiful (take 1) [False Start & Warm Up] – :55
  12. “For All We Know (take 1) [Complete] – 3:14
  13. “For All We Know (take 2) [Complete] – 3:12
  14. “For All We Know (take 3) [Complete] – 2:59
  15. “It’s Easy to Remember (take 1) [Breakdown] – 3:20
  16. “It’s Easy to Remember (take 2) [Complete] – 4:05
  17. “It’s Easy to Remember (take 5) [Breakdown] – :31
  18. “It’s Easy to Remember (take 6) [Breakdown & Warm Up] – 1:05
  19. “It’s Easy to Remember (take 7) [Incomplete] – 1:18
  20. “I’m a Fool to Want You (chatter & warm up) – :23
  21. “I’m a Fool to Want You (take 1) [Breakdown] – 3:21
  22. “I’m a Fool to Want You (take 2) [Short version, Complete] – 2:36
  23. “I’m a Fool to Want You (take 3) [Edit Piece] – :52
  24. “The End of a Love Affair [Breakdown] – 1:09
  25. “Glad to Be Unhappy (take 1) [Incomplete] – :33
  26. “Glad to Be Unhappy (warm up) – :16
  27. “Glad to Be Unhappy (take 3) [Breakdown] – :49
  28. “Glad to Be Unhappy (take 4) [Complete] – 4:16
  29. “Glad to Be Unhappy (take 7) [False Start] – :21
  30. “Glad to Be Unhappy (take 8) [Incomplete] – 1:10
  31. “Glad to Be Unhappy (take 10) [Breakdown] – 1:27
  32. “Glad to Be Unhappy (take 11) [Breakdown] – :46
  33. “You’ve Changed (take 2) [False Start] – :22
  34. “Studio Chatter – :15
  35. “You’ve Changed (take 3) [False Start] – 2:29
  36. “I Get Along Without You Very Well (take 1) [False Start] – :16
  37. “I Get Along Without You Very Well (take 2) [Breakdown] – :37
  38. “I Get Along Without You Very Well (take 3) [Complete] – 3:09
  39. “I Get Along Without You Very Well (chatter) – :16
  40. “I Get Along Without You Very Well (take 5) [Breakdown] – :27
  41. “I Get Along Without You Very Well (take 6) [Complete] – 3:06
  42. “Violets For Your Furs (chatter) – 1:51
  43. “Violets For Your Furs (take 2) [Complete] – 3:25
  44. “Violets For Your Furs (take 4) [Complete] – 3:25

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s