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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove



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ANITA O'DAY

Jazz Manifesto

Delta 38284

 

 



 
CD1

1. S'Wonderful / They Can't Take That Away From Me
2. Tenderly
3. Old Devil Moon
4. Love Me Or Leave Me
5. We'll Be Together Again
6. Stella By Starlight
7. Takin' A Chance On Love
8. Them There Eyes
9. I've Got The World On A String
10. You Turned The Tables On Me
11. Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered
12. I Didn't Know What Time It Was
13. I Won't Dance
14. Don't Be That Way
15. Let's Face The Music And Dance
16. Pick Yourself Up
17. Sweet Georgia Brown
18. Stompin' At The Savoy
19. Stars Fell On Alabama
20. The Man With The Horn
CD2

1. I Never Had A Chance
2. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square
3. You're The Top
4. No Moon At All
5. I Can't Get Started
6. Honeysuckle Rose
7. Time After Time
8. I Fall In Love Too Easily
9. Who Cares?
10. Beautiful Love
11. Love For Sale
12. Lover Come Back To Me
13. From This Moment On
14. Medley: There Will Never Be Another You / Just Friends
15. Lullaby Of The Leaves
16. I Cover The Waterfront
17. We Laughed At Love
18. I'll See You In My Dreams
19. The Man I Love
20. You Don't Know What Love Is
 

To paraphrase John O'Hara. Anita O'Day died in November 2006, but I don't have to believe that if I don't want to. Until late in her life Anita maintained the excitement in her singing - despite various struggles against drink and drugs. This double album reminds us of one of jazz's brightest sparks: a vocalist who was basically tough and uncompromising but who approached her art with humour and the sort of radiance that transmitted itself to an audience. She had a smile in her voice.

Although there are sadly no recording dates or personnel, these two CDs seem to be taken largely from some of the albums that Anita made in the 1950s for the Verve label - a guarantee of quality, as producer Norma Granz was probably involved. The first eleven tracks comprised the 1957 album Anita Sings the Most, with fine backing from a group which was basically the Oscar Peterson Trio (with guitarist Herb Ellis and bassist Ray Brown) plus Anita's favourite drummer, John Poole. The small-group setting suits Anita perfectly, as it gives her space to improvise which, in her case, includes jumping across bar-lines, and singing faster or slower than the accompanists - although she miraculously gets back in synch with them.

Some of the other tracks come from Anita's albums Pick Yourself Up and This is Anita, where the singer was backed by a big band - in some cases led by Buddy Bregman. The arrangements are acceptable but the big-band format restricts Anita's adventurousness and she doesn't dare to take so many liberties as she does with small groups. Sweet Georgia Brown is basically the same version of the song as she sang in the film Jazz on a Summer's Day but it lacks some of the exhilaration which animated that memorable performance. And slow songs like A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square test her intonation, which could be her one weak point.

Compare these big-band tracks with the vigour - even wildness - of songs like Them There Eyes, taken at an incredibly fast tempo which Anita sails through without any difficulty, singing and scatting. Yet even the big-band items have their appeal. On several of the songs on the second CD, including I Can't Get Started and Time After Time, Anita sings the verses, which are so little-known that they keep the listener in suspense until the familiar chorus enters.

In fact, this album is a delight from start to finish - for Anita's daring phrasing, clarity with the words, vocal fluidity and emotional truth. Anita O'Day lives!

Tony Augarde


 

 

 

 



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