Anita O'Day

Verve Jazz Masters 49

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This is an excellent one-disc roundup of Anita O'Day's output for Clef, Norgan and Verve -- arguably her most important, most experimental period -- and it is especially valuable because Anita and her manager Alan Eichler made the selections themselves. It was during this decade of activity that O'Day made the transition from a spent former big-band thrush to an acclaimed jazz diva, despite the turmoil in her personal life and her feeling that she was playing second-fiddle to Ella in Norman Granz' recording stable. The selection is remarkably wide-ranging, sampling from twelve of O'Day's sixteen albums for Granz and his successor at Verve, Creed Taylor, with lots of loosely swinging mid- and uptempo numbers and ballads that can be alternately world-wise and innocent. Among the many highlights that illustrate the diversity of O'Day's Verve period are "No Soap, No Hope Blues," from O'Day's first rare ten-inch album for Granz; her saucy remake of "Boogie Blues" with the innovative Gary McFarland orchestra; and the sexy, swaggering title track of Waiter, Make Mine Blues. Anyone seeking an entryway into the tough yet vulnerable song world of Anita O'Day will get a lot of helpful direction from this album.

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