These 18 cuts showcase Anita O'Day at the very height of her powers, between 1952 and 1955, as a stylist and a groundbreaking vocalist. O'Day used her voice like an instrument in the post-bop era: she swung hard and often fast, and dug deep into the charts to come up with an improvisational style that knocked out most of her contemporaries. In an era when female vocalists were the norm, she set a new standard and was, like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Dinah Washington, a singer who understood the blues, was muscular in her approach, and took standards as jumping-off points for improvisation. This collection of now timeless nuggets in American pop are given idiosyncratic, sophisticated, and revelatory treatment. These sides were all cut for the Clef and Verve labels, run by Norman Granz and his successor at Verve, Creed Taylor; they feature O'Day singing with either the Roy Eldridge or Roy Kral quintets or the Buddy Bregman or Larry Russell orchestras. You know the tunes if you are reading this. Check the samples and seek it out; as a single volume it is virtually unbeatable.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek