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Billie Holiday: Strange Fruit
Billie Holiday Strange Fruit
Actor: Billie Holiday
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
NR     2008

NTSC/Region 0. 13 rare performances from the legendary jazz vocalist filmed throughout the '50s. Features Billie backed by other Jazz luminaries like Count Basie, Ben Webster, Gerry Mulligan, Doc Cheatham, Mal Waldron and ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Billie Holiday
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
Sub-Genres: Pop, Holiday, Billie, Jazz
Studio: Salt Peanuts Spain
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 08/20/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1950
Release Year: 2008
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
Edition: Import
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Some Great, Rare Performances at a Bargain Price
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 03/18/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I took a chance and ordered this DVD, since this page has no description of the product or its quality. I enjoyed it very much, and it's a welcome addition to my library.

This video contains 13 video clips from television appearances in the latter part of Lady Day's life. The video and audio quality vary; most of the clips are very good; several have been available on other compilations.

The primary reason for obtaining this package is the excellent quality of the first two clips - Billie appears with Count Basie and His Orchestra in a 1950 short, singing God Bless the Child and Now Baby Or Never. This clip was available earlier in very poor quality on another compilation, but the audio and video quality of this short in this package is stunning, and it may very well be the best video performance of Billie Holiday preserved on film. I am quite pleased, and the price of this DVD is worth it for this short alone.

The other 11 clips included are:

My Man
Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
Billie's Blues with the Corky Hale Trio (Los Angelis, 1956 - very good quality)

Easy To Remember
What A Little Moonlight Can Do
Foolin' Myself (a great song that Lady rarely performed) with Georgie Auld and Mal Waldron (Newark, NJ, 1958 - poor quality)

I Only Have Eyes For You
Travelin' Light with Mal Waldron (Paris, 1958 good quality)

Strange Fruit
I Loves You Porgy with Mal Waldron, (London, 1959 - good quality)

Plus the celebrated performance of Fine and Mellow from the Voice of Jazz CBS special (1957) with Roy Eldridge, Doc Cheatam, Vic Dickensen, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Gerry Mulligan, Mal Waldron, Danny Barker, Milt Hinton and Osie Johnson, presented in its entirety (1957). If you have never seen it or don't have it, it's another of Lady Day's rare video performances that is not to be missed.

All in all, definitely a find for fans at this price.
Strange Greatness
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 11/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Billie Holiday's singing had nothing like the velvet beauty of Sarah Vaughan's or the rhythmic agility of Ella Fitzgerald's, and yet she was (IMHO) the greatest jazz/blues singer ever. Her phrasing and her emotional intensity lifted her small voice to the creative level of Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, and Lester Young, her closest musical peer. The final track on this DVD - "Fine and Mellow", a nine-minute session recorded in 1957 - is one of the richest examples both of Holiday's expressive art and of jazz improvisation on film. The session band included sax-players Young, Hawkins, Ben Webster and Gerry Mulligan; trumpeters Roy Eldridge and Doc Cheatham; trombone Viv Dickenson, pianist Mal Waldon; bassist Milt Hinton; and drummer Osie Johnson. So many over-sized players, and still such tight, mellow, generous ensemble! I love those guys! I'd take my share of racial and chemical abuse to be part of such a session.

The two 1950 tracks of Billie with Count Basie are also special; the film is grainy and fuzzy, but the sound quality is better than most and has been well-reengineered on this DVD. The other tracks, mostly with the Mal Waldron Orchestra, are of dismal quality both in picture and sound, but hey! it doesn't matter. There's so little of Billie Holiday on film - such shabby little fragments really, of such a sublime and unique performer - that one can only kneel in gratitude to have anything.

And then there's the 'title' song, Strange Fruit. Is everybody prepared to have heartbreak? The social/historical context of American racism and apartheid is never far below the surface of the Blues, but the words of the poem Strange Fruit, sung by tragic Billie Holiday, transcend music and entertainment, and need to etched in our souls forever."
Gotta see Billie sing on TV
Lucky13 | 05/13/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I like this DVD, Cause it's got some good stuff on it.
Anything I can get on Lady Day, I'll take.
It is worth a Look, and the quality is mostly good,
if you're a hard ass, your opinion may differ, but I like this one"