Anita O'Day

At Mister Kelly's

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Caught live with just her piano trio at Chicago's famous now-defunct nightclub, Anita O'Day is in an ebullient mood as she tosses off a series of standards and novelties. Whether this is an accurate snapshot of her live act is open to question; the stage business in between numbers seems rather formal and one doesn't really feel the excitement of a live performance. Yet O'Day is clearly in a creative mood, whether allowing her vulnerability to show in the torchy ballads or reveling in the boppish up-tempo workouts. Her vocal on "Tea for Two" is a virtuoso deconstruction, full of satiric quotes and rhythmic shifts at a warp-speed tempo. Fleet-fingered Joe Masters decorates the fills with standard bop runs on the slightly-out-of-tune house piano. [Originally released in 1958, At Mister Kelly's was reissued on an import-only Japanese CD in 2004.]

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