This is a never previously released live set from a highly successful 1963 television concert in Japan. Vocalist Anita O'Day came out of the Big Band Era and after memorable stints with the Gene Krupa and Stan Kenton bands she launched an enduring soloist career that was still going strong when she passed in 2007 at 87.
This "new" O'Dayalbum is especially welcome because it is from her peak recording years. The snazzy arrangements by Buddy Bregman come directly out of classic big band sound as is immediately evident with the opener, "Boogie Blues." Sizzling and crackling from note one, O'Day jumps right into a swinging setting that's clearly catnip to her. She pours out each note in her distinctive golden sand-laced caramelized sound. When she slows down for "Trav'lin' Light," her phrasing's still her own but with echoes of Billie Holiday. For sure O'Day knew her way around ballads too. Accompanied by Bob Corwin beautifully in sync on piano, just listen as she wraps velvety sounds around that Rodgers & Hart beauty "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered." It's dry martini musical witchcraft that's equal parts hip to the jive AND romantic.
But for this listener it's with the swinging tunes where she knocks it right out of the ballpark every time and happily this set is packed with them. On Cole Porter's obsessive "Night and Day," she and the band get with a wildly accelerating tempo that may leave your ears breathless. With seemingly unstoppable energy, she ebulliently shouts "jam session time!" and goes into her now-famous rendition of "Tea for Two," from which every barnacle is quickly seared. Trading licks back and forth with trombone and trumpet, she scats with absolute ease and assurance, tossing in a reference to "Salt Peanuts," and finishing off with playful sounds only a supremely confident pro could pull off. (Regrettably her excellent musical cohorts are not identified by name.) No matter what she sang, O'Day always seemed to have a smile in her voice while having a helluva good time.
Track Listing: Boogie Blues; Trave'Lin' Light; Honeysuckle Rose; Avalon; Bewitched; You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To; Night and Day; Let's Fall In Love; Sweet Georgia Brown; Tea For Two; Stella By Starlight; Love For Sale; Get Out Of Town; That Old Feeling; Four Brothers.
Personnel: Anita O'Day: vocals; Bob Corwin: piano; Toshiyuki Miyama and The All-Star Orchestra and Takeshi Inomata and His West Liners.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.