In keeping with the Jazz 'Round Midnight theme, this Anita O'Day sampler errs on the mellow side of things with 16 after-hours gems from the lady of bop vocal rhythm. For fans more interested in sampling all of O'Day's talents, though, there's such well-balanced Verve collection as Jazz Masters and Compact Jazz to check out. But, if your optimal inroad to jazz vocals is a smooth one, this disc -- with ballad highlights like "Man With a Horn," "I'm Not Lonely," and "Early Autumn" -- will make for ideal listening. And while O'Day is not the first word in jazz ballads (think June Christy or Ella Fitzgerald), her beguiling delivery -- along with the disc's wealth of top-notch charts and amazing cast of sidemen -- makes up for any lack of rarefied mood moments. Packed with gems from the singer's '50s and early-'60s prime, Jazz 'Round Midnight: Anita O'Day will make the familiarizing process as easy as sipping a glass of French red.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook