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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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ANITA O'DAY

Sings for Oscar

Poll Winners Records PWR 27231

 

 


1. `S Wonderful/They Can't Take That Away From Me
2. Love Me or Leave Me
3. Old Devil Moon
4. Tenderly
5. We'll Be Together Again
6. Stella by Starlight
7. Them There Eyes
8. Takin' a Chance on Love
9. I've Got The World on a String
10. You Turned the Tables on Me
11. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
12. Don't Be That Way
13. Let's Face The Music and Dance
14. I Used To Be Color Blind
15. Pick Yourself Up
16. Let's Begin
17. Sweet Georgia Brown
18. I Never Had a Chance
19. Stompin' at the Savoy
20. I Won't Dance
21. There's a Lull in My Life
22. Man with a Horn
23. Stars Fell on Alabama
24. The Getaway and the Chase

Tracks 1-11
Oscar Peterson - Piano
Herb Ellis - Guitar
Ray Brown - Bass
John Poole - Drums
Tracks 12-15
Larry Bunker - Vibes, bongoes
Paul Smith - Piano
Barney Kessell - Guitar
Joe Mondragon - Bass
Alvin Stoller - Drums
Tracks 16-24
The Buddy Bregman Orchestra featuring:
Pete Candoli, Conte Candoli - Trumpets
Frank Rosolino - Trombone
Bud Shank - Alto sax
Stan Getz - Tenor sax
Jimmy Giuffre - Baritone sax
Paul Smith - Piano
Barney Kessell - Guitar
Joe Mondragon - Bass
Shelly Manne - Drums

 

There are many difficulties in life - ranging from getting politicians to to tell the truth to opening a yoghurt pot without the yoghurt spurting up your sleeve. But few things can be as difficult as being a musician accompanying Anita O'Day. She plays so many tricks with songs - their melodies, rhythms, phrasing, lyrics - that she is almost impossible to keep up with. Even the great Oscar Peterson sometimes sounds nonplussed on the first 13 tracks of this album, which originally appeared in 1957 with the title Anita Sings the Most. The remaining tracks come from a 1956 LP called Pick Yourself Up, with an extra track from an earlier session tacked on at the end.

The songs with the Oscar Peterson trio (plus Anita's drummer of choice, John Poole), show how adventurous this vocalist can be - continually startling the listener (and often the accompanists). We'll Be Together Again is a notable example of this, with O'Day introducing unexpected pauses which never upset the overall beat. Guitarist Herb Ellis seems to have an instinct for the way she is going to twist and turn, and he fits in appropriate fills - as in I've Got the World on a String, where Herb seems to anticipate Anita's quirky delivery. And John Poole manages to keep up with Anita while swapping fours with her in the ultra-fast Them There Eyes.

I have said before that Anita O'Day seems better suited to a small group than a big band, since the latter gives less freedom for her vagaries. But Buddy Bregman's orchestra succeeds fairly well in staying out of her way in the second part of this album. And the band contains plenty of first-class soloists, who add some well-built solos - like Stan Getz in I Never Had a Chance (a neglected Irving Berlin song) and Frank Rosolino in Stompin' at the Savoy. In fact the Bregman-backed tracks include several unhackneyed songs, such as Jerome Kern's Let's Begin and Man with a Horn (where a trumpet might have been expected as backing instead of the saxophone).

Anita repeats her Newport Jazz Festvial success with Sweet Georgia Brown but starts simply with tom-tom accompaniment, then goes into a slow tempo which doubles up for the third chorus. Some of these big-band tracks tend to water down the jazz content with a lush string section but Anita remains a jazz singer through-and-through. Marvellous!

Tony Augarde



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