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Tea for Two – A Centenary Tribute; her 53 Finest 1941-55

RETROSPECTIVE RTS4360 [78:45 + 79:46]


CD 1 (1941-1955)

Gene Krupa & his Orchestra:

1. Alreet

2. Georgia on My Mind

3. Just a Little Bit South of North Carolina

4. Slow Down

5. Let Me Off Uptown (with Roy Eldridge)

6. Skylark

7. Bolero at the Savoy

8. Thanks for the Boogie Ride (with Roy Eldridge)

9. That’s What You Think

Nat King Cole & his Trio:

10. Ain’t Misbehavin’

11. And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine

12. Gotta Be Gettin’

13. Are You Livin’, Old Man?

Lowel Martin & orchestra:

14. Memories of You

Gene Krupa & his Orchestra:

15. Opus One

16. Boogie Blues

Will Bradley & his Orchestra:

17. What is this Thing Called Love?

Ralph Burns & his Orchestra:

18. How High the Moon?

Abbey Brown & his Cool Ctas;

19. Jamaica Mon

Ben Homer & his Orchestra

20. Tennessee Waltz

Ralph Burns & his Orchestra:

21. Lover, Come Back to Me

22. Love for Sale

Roy Kral & his Quintet:

23. No Soap, No Hope Blues


24. Just One of Those Things

Buddy Bregman & his Orchestra:

25. Fine and Dandy

26. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

27. No Moon at All

CD 2 (1955-1962)

1. Honeysuckle Rose


2. Don’t Be That Way

3. Pick Yourself Up

Buddy Bregman & his Orchestra:

4. Stars Fell on Alabama

5. Stompin’ at the Savoy

6. Sweet Georgia Brown

Oscar Peterson & his Quartet:

7. Old Devil Moon

8. Tenderly

9. We’ll Be Together Again

10. Stella By Starlight

11. Them There Eyes

12. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

Russ Garcia & his Orchestra

13. The Peanut Vendor

Marty Paich & his Orchestra

14. Take the “A” Train

15. Early Autumn


16. Tea for Two

Billy May & his Orchestra:

17. All of You

Jimmy Giuffre & his Orchestra:

18. Easy Come, Easy Go

Billy May & his Orchestra:

19. Johnny One Note

Johnny Mandel & his Orchestra:

20. Trav’lin’ Light


21. Remember?

22. What a Little Moonlight Can Do

Gary McFarland & his Orchestra:

23. Night Bird

24. Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me

Cal Tjader & quintet

25. Peel Me a Grape

26. Thanks for the Memory

Released to mark the centenary of her birth in 1919 this filled-to-the-brim twofer from Retrospective gives us the high life and huge talent of Anita Belle Colton in performances that span the years 1941 to 1962. A tough background as a marathon dancer and singer-waitress instilled in her a powerful work ethic and her first break came early when she impressed a visiting Gene Krupa, with whose discs the survey begins.

She always seems to have been imbued with a sassy quality, a hip element that makes so much of her singing perennially stylish. That and a propensity, too, for unusually fast tempi in unexpected songs. Thus, whilst Alreet might reflect the hipster vernacular, Georgia on My Mind is taken at a fair lick, complete with improvisational fills that Benny Goodman would have hated – which is why he turned her down when she auditioned for his band. Her jivey discs with Roy Eldridge never pall, whether Let Me Off Uptown or the big-boned Thanks for the Boogie Ride – not always subtle but always invigorating. The souvenir of her musical liaison with Nat King Cole, initially languid, then tempo-doubled, is a fine example of her commanding musicality and she shows versatility with Stan Kenton even if that big hit And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine might strike jazzers as maudlin pop. It’s really only O’Day who saves Boogie Blues - where Charlie Ventura’s generic solo goes through the motions – via her saucily ironic delivery.

Don’t overlook Ralph Burns’ orchestra in their kicking and intriguingly original version of What is This Thing Called Love? or O’Day’s scat singing in the ultra boppish How High the Moon. The Verve years were some of the finest examples of her art on disc and this includes her 1955 LP simply called Anita where Buddy Bregman’s orchestra provides good support for her lithe and exciting singing. She often took a new slant on standards such as the Kern/Fields Pick Yourself Up with a sextet led by Sweets Edison or the Jack Teagarden vehicle Stars Fell on Alabama which she makes very much her own or the famed ‘percussion’ arrangement of Sweet Georgia Brown with the Candolis blaring away in the brass section behind her. Six tracks are culled from the 1957 Verve LP Anita Sings the Most with Oscar Peterson and rhythm section (Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, Jo Jones; some rhythm section); this session includes the tongue-twistingly fast Them There Eyes. Her favourite album was Trav’lin’ Light, her Billie Holiday tribute disc, and there are three brilliant tracks from it but perhaps even more intriguing, because of his impressionistic-sounding arrangements, are the two overdubbed tracks with Gary McFarland and his orchestra, taken from the 1961 LP All the Sad Young Men. The delicious brace with Cal Tjader (yes, the album with Peel Me A Grape on it) concludes the twofer with wit and style.

With fine notes and top-class transfers this centenary salute shows how versatile, questing and original O’Day was and why the world is still listening to her.

Jonathan Woolf

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