Anita O'Day Swings Rodgers & Hart - JazzWax

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August 09, 2011


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As Marc has pointed out in previous posts, Anita also hated Bill Holman's arrangements but loved the ones by Jimmy Giuffre. I'm curious as to how she felt about the Gary McFarland or Johnny Mandel albums. An interesting thing about that series is that each of the arrangers seemed to bring out a different side of her talent.

Bill Kirchner

I worked with her for a week at NYC's Blue Note almost 30 years ago, and one night I drove her to her hotel after the gig. I asked her about the album with Gary ("All the Sad Young Men"). All she said was that the band tracks were recorded in NYC, and then the tapes were sent to L.A. and she overdubbed all her vocals. You sure can't tell that from listening. She also said that she didn't even meet Gary until several years later.

keith hedger

I am not a fan of jazz singers, but O'day got my heart early. As a kid I kept hearing about this movie called 'Jazz on a Summer's Day' (this was pre-video in every house...). I never got a chance to see it until about 20 years ago.
I remember liking the film, digging the music and the verite of it all, when 'the Hat' appeared on stage. From the time she started singing, I was hooked! I was amazed. Still am.


Robert Gilbert

I like this LP a lot...particularly the version of Little Girl Blue, with the sweeping strings and the verse in the middle. Pure bliss!

Dave James

Is it just me, or is there a little Tony Soprano in that picture of Billy May?

Jerri Carmo

Thanks for highlighting AOD, Marc. It's difficult for me to choose a favorite out of all of her work, but this album definitely shines as one of the brightest.

To Bill Kirchner if you read this post - I enjoyed your comments regarding AOD in the Jazz Icon liner notes.

Ed Leimbacher

By the lights O'Day, other singers were just flailing in the dark. She was a firecracker on a lit short fuse, but took her tough broad stance too seriously, too often trying to run roughshod over the guys arranging or playing behind her (sort of "do unto others before they do unto you").

I love listening to her get inventive, go crazy, sing bored... whatever the moment leads to. Who knows, maybe striking all those sparks brought out the best in her. Not even the junk could put her cool, laid back, or on the nod.

Ray Hoffman

To add to Bill Kirchner's comments: I drove Anita (and her drum buddy, John Poole) to the airport in Pittsburgh after a week-long stand in '74 or '75, and she described the overdub on the Gary McFarland album as an "electronical geniusal" effort.

She had nothing kind to say about Marty Paich, saying (of their album on Verve), "The producer must have said to him. "Hey kid, you want to write some charts?"." On the other hand, she spoke highly of the Holman album (and the pianist on the date, Jimmy Rowles). In fact, she happily signed my copy of it. And I know, from Holman, that there was talk about a second recording with his big band in the '80s. Instead, though, she did the album with Buddy Bregman. 'Nuff said about that idea....

Ray Hoffman
WCBS Newsradio 880, New York

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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