Billie Holiday was in bad shape when Norman Granz signed her to Verve Records. He helped her career but nobody could curb her self-destructive tendencies. Her voice was a bit raspy by the Fifties but her phrasing remained world class. I’ve always thought the harsh edge to her later vocals gave them character. It was more like Lady Lives The Blues than Lady Sings The Blues.
All Or Nothing At All was released in 1958 but was in the can long before that. The cover is by David Stone Martin and brilliantly captures Lady Day’s angst. Sadly enough, that angst was part of her genius. She died within a year of this LP’s release at the age of 44.
The whole album isn’t online so here are a few selected tracks featuring some stellar playing by Ben Webster on sax and Harry Sweets Edison on trumpet: