Trav'lin' Light

Anita O'Day

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Trav'lin' Light Review

by Richard S. Ginell

A tribute to Anita O'Day's idol Billie Holiday -- who had died less than two years before the making of this recording -- O'Day's performances here are more notable for what she didn't borrow from her vocal role model. Selections like the title track find her generating a slightly bitter tone quality and languorous phrasing in the manner of Holiday, but most of this beautiful record find O'Day going her own way in a more forthright, less vulnerable manner. While O'Day's version of "God Bless the Child" doesn't really make it, just about everything else is marvelous. Half of the tracks feature a small group led by guitarist Barney Kessel while the other half -- the more effective tracks, actually -- feature now-exuberant, now-exquisite arrangements for big band by Johnny Mandel that make haunting use of muted brass at ballad tempos. This was O'Day's favorite among her Norgran/Verve albums.

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