SINGS THE WINNERS - Anita O'Day
TRACK LISTING: Take the "A" Train, Tenderly, Interlude (A Night in Tunisia), Four, Early Autumn, Four Brothers, Sing Sing Sing (With A Swing), My Funny Valentine, Frenesi, Body and Soul, What's Your Story Morning Glory, Peanut Vendor (El Manisero)
BONUS TRACKS: Whisper Not, Blue Champagne, Stompin' at the Savoy, Hershey Bar, Don't Be That Way, Peel Me A Grape, Star Eyes
IMPRESSIONS: The first Anita O'Day album I ever bought. Oddly, I can't remember why I suddenly bought an Anita O'Day out of the blue; I can only conjecture that it must've been after I saw her in the classic concert film JAZZ ON A SUMMER'S DAY. I probably bought it either at STRAWBERRIES or the new TOWER RECORDS which had opened up next to the Cherry Hill Mall; both stores now sadly but a memory. Either way, this album features very strong performances by Anita on some of my favourite songs by her. Anita is sharp and full of fire on this album which sometimes she wasn't (as on the sadly underwhelming ANITA O'DAY SWINGS COLE PORTER with Billy May on which she sounds strangely subdued). Here she's sassy and firey attacking the songs with her full strength. An apt itunes review describes side one as bold and brassy with side two finding Anita "like a low ripple across a lake".
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Take the "A" Train, Tenderly, Four, Early Autumn, Sing Sing Sing (With A Swing), My Funny Valentine, Frenesi, What's Your Story Morning Glory, Peanut Vendor (El Manisero), Whisper Not, Blue Champagne, Stompin' at the Savoy, Hershey Bar, Don't Be That Way, Peel Me A Grape,
FACT SHEET: SINGS THE WINNERS is Anita O'Day's 12th album (although it's a little hard to gauge these things from this era). The concept of the album by producer Norman Granz was to pick the "winners" from the top Jazz and Orchestral charts associated with top jazzmen. The original vinyl side one features arrangements by Marty Paich and side two was arranged by Russ Garcia. Bonus tracks were added to the 1991 cd reissue by culling other songs from O'Day's repertoire which were heavily associated with famous jazzmen but feature Anita's sometimes very different interpretations. Born Anita Belle Colton, she took the name O'Day because it's pig latin for "dough" aka money. She is usually grouped with the "West Coast Cool" school of Jazz along with singers like Mel Torme. She called Martha Raye her main influence for her vocal style as well as singers like Mildred Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday; O'Day herself was a major influence on late swing and early bebop vocalists such as June Christy, Chris Connor and Doris Day. A childhood tonsilectomy apparently accidentally excised her uvula which the singer claimed made her incapable of vibrato or long-sustained notes; this forced her to develop a more percussive vocal style of short notes and driving rhythm probably also influenced by her jazz drum training.