If ever there was anyone who had the right to sing these songs, then it must be Billie Holiday! For who else has experienced the destruction of body and soul? No matter whether the injuries came from without or within: she could express her emotions and feeling in each and every song. Shortly before the end of her career – her personality had been destroyed through alcohol, drugs and failed relationships – she entered the Verve studio where she recorded the most moving versions ever of these eight songs.
On the programme in January 1957 were hits from musicals and popular evergreens from the era of swing. Was it the excellent accompanyists that spurred Billie Holiday on? Or was it the relaxed atmosphere of the West Coast that made her feel at ease? Or did she realise that she had another chance to show off her talent once again? We, as listeners, can only speculate over that. But what we can be sure of is that "Body And Soul" bears witness to a broken soul and a maltreated body – and it will remain so for ever.
And just a word about the producer: Norman Granz deserves enormous credit for rescuing Billie Holiday from falling into oblivion by offering her an exclusive recording contract at the beginning of the Fifties, and remaining true to her right up until her death.