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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

Live in '63 and '70

Jazz Icons by Naxos 2.119015

In Sweden in 1963 and in Norway in 1970

B&W; All regions; English; Mono

 

 

1. Sweet Georgia Brown
2. Let's Fall in Love
3. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square
4. Fly Me to the Moon
5. Honeysuckle Rose
6. On Green Dolphin Street
7. Tea for Two
8. Let's Fall in Love
9. Yesterday / Yesterdays
10. Four Brothers
11. I Can't Get Started
12. Sweet Georgia Brown
13. Tea for Two

Anita O'Day - Vocals
Göran Engdahl - Piano (tracks 1-7)
Roman Dylag - Bass (tracks 1-7)
John Poole - Drums (tracks 1-7)
George Arvanitas - Piano (tracks 8-13)
Jacky Samson - Bass (tracks 8-13)
Charles Saudrais - Drums (tracks 8-13)

 

Anita O'Day performed regularly in Europe in the 1960s and 70s and these two filmed performances, from Stockholm in 1963 and Oslo in 1970, attest to her inveterate swing and her sheer class. The earlier concert took place in the Narren Arena Theatre on 25 June and was broadcast on TV a few months later. Elegantly dressed in jacket and skirt - and captured by several camera angles - we find her engaging in the familiar tempo doubling in Sweet Georgia Brown (which she sings at both concerts, as she does Let's Fall In Love and Tea for Two). Facially one forgets just how mobile and expressive she was, just how well she put across these songs both vocally and physically. Nothing is hammed, it all appears generated from the bars of the song.

She was susceptible to Ella's brand of scat singing, and this she dutifully indulges in Let's Fall In Love. She uses a hand mike for A Nightingale and sits near her pianist Göran Engdahl (who died in 2001), the better to emphasise the song's intimacy. She brings things to life as well, emphasising certain words or phrases with unfamiliar conviction. Filmed footage can reveal what a record can only hint at. In Fly Me To The Moon one can see her work the men in the audience. Her rapport with them is scintillating, sassy, saucy and a touch whimsical, and the challenge of her direct gaze is met by a daring few. Engdahl meanwhile takes a good, long solo. She appeals for a request - but we know she's going to sing Honeysuckle Rose anyway, and she duly does so, the song opening with a walking bass solo. Note her vowel flattening and totally hip gestures. Her horn-based scat virtuosity can be sampled in On Green Dolphin Street where she trades choruses with Engdahl, her bassist and drummer, Roman Dylag and John Poole respectively, and emerges victorious. She began the concert with one of her Newport Festival successes and ends it with another, Tea for Two. The quick trades are tricky and not entirely successful on this occasion, but they're certainly adrenalin-filled.

The Oslo concert sees her blonde, in a frilly shirt, skirt and gloves. The concert ambience was less intimate here, the venue being the big Njardhallen Sportshall outside Oslo. She stretches out far more on Let's Fall In Love than she had seven years earlier and the result is a more compelling performance. She has a wholly different personnel with her, a close knit French trio who play pretty well. Certain things distract, sometimes amusingly. A young man sits eating sandwiches in the front row, but surely even he would have to admire her scat singing on Four Brothers and her way with I Can't Get Started - the last `with verse' as she announces to the audience. It's true; we seldom hear the verse on this one. Because of the tighter trio, and the slower tempo, the trades on this version of Tea for Two are far more assured, and far less chaotic, than the Stockholm concert.

O'Day fully deserves her place in the Jazz Icons series. She was a consummate performer, and is captured here in her mature splendour.

Jonathan Woolf

 

See also a review by Tony Augarde.

 



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