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Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing. Take, for example, Anita O'Day's new album. The 86 year-old, who made her name as the lead vocalist for the Gene Krupa Orchestra, hasn't released an album for thirteen years, and the results on Indestructible! are a clear indication why. Her voice has been ravaged by decades of hard living, and her attempts at singing behind the beat show the strain of effort. The shadow of her talent is there, but it's not enough to sustain an album. Also, the recording has her mic'd much louder than the band, ruining any possibility of group interaction. It creates the impression that she was recorded separately.
This becomes immediately apparent on "Blue Skies, as Joe Wilder briefly states the melody when O'Day steps up, drowning out her bandmates with speak-singing that wobbles around the notes. Wilder comes back with a compact flurry of a solo, but O'Day can't maintain his energy and the song dwindles to a halt.
What does come across is her joy in performing. Each phrase uttered from the selection of standards is done with ingratiating sincerity, and at times it is contagious, especially on "Gimme a Pigfoot, which places the least demand on her voice. O'Day's band is very solid, establishing a rapport with each other if not the singer. Steve Fishwick begins with a bluesy melody on muted trumpet, as John Colliani's impressive stride piano runs are barely audible. Then O'Day intones with a wink her need for a "pigfoot bottle of beer, her weathered voice an apt complement to the sentiments of the tune. The rest of the album demands far too much of her, prompting only a wish to listen to her earlier recordings and get a truer sense of her talent.
Track Listing: Blue Skies; This Can't Be Love; Is You Is; All Of Me; A Slip of the Lip; Pennies From Heaven; Gimme A Pigfoot; Them There Eyes; Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea; My Little Suede Shoes; The Nearness of You
Personnel: Eddie Locke: drums; Joe Wilder: trumpet and flugel horn; Chip Jackson: bass; Lafayette Harris Jr.: piano; Tommy Morimoto: saxophone; John Colliani: piano (3,5,7); Sean Smith: bass (3,5,7); Matt Fishwick: drums (3,5,7); Steve Fishwick: drums (3,5,7); Roswell Rudd: trombone (3,5,7)
I was first exposed to jazz while learning to play chess with my uncles. They would play smooth jazz, and then switch up to more standard types of jazz. But, when they played Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, I was
hooked and I haven't looked back.