Sunday, July 29, 2007

Billie Holiday Remixed reviewed by the New York Times

NYTIMES.COM: Five years ago the apparitional rasp of Billie Holiday brought a whiff of desolation to “Verve Remixed,” the album that sparked a vogue for jazz-meets-D.J. compilations. The better of her two tracks on the album was produced by Tricky, who found a way to make “Strange Fruit” even stranger, in the word’s most foreboding sense. A triumph of its kind, it’s also a stark anomaly. (You don’t hear “Strange Fruit” in retail and coffee chains. At least here’s hoping you don’t.) It’s no surprise then that “Billie Holiday: Remixed & Reimagined,” due out next week from Columbia/Legacy, lacks a moment as chilling as that one. Instead the album suggests a high-gloss fluorescent idyll. This is bad news for Holiday on most tracks — like the Tony Humphries techno remix of “But Beautiful” — even if it’s good news for the people who will gently sway, or gingerly sip, to the sound of her processed avatar. Yet redeeming exceptions can be found, including a frisky “Trav’lin’ All Alone” produced by Nickodemus and Zeb. (Nickodemus and Jazzy Nice, another of the album’s more successful interlopers, will spin some of this material at the South Street Seaport on Friday night.) Perhaps the executive producer, Scott Schlachter, who oversaw a similar project involving Nina Simone last year, emerged from this one with a new appreciation of Holiday’s miraculous Columbia catalog. Anyone else with that aim should bypass all middlemen; the remixes may be modish, but the originals are timelessly modern.



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