Anita O'Day became famous as a big-band singer in the 1940s. But much of her lasting fame also stems from the albums she made for Verve between 1956 and 1962, which collectively stand as a Bible of cool. Recorded in 1960, Anita O'Day And Billy May Swing Rodgers And Hart followed on the heels of O'Day's and arranger Billy May's tribute to Cole Porter, proving once again that she and May were meant for each other. May's masterful arrangements ingnite that imitable O'Day insouciance; her exacting phrasing, calculated dissonances, and tart wit, transform each song into a swinging salute to Rodgers and Hart, line for line. Timbre alone cannot guarantee a listener's interest in familiar material, however. And when Anita O'Day joins with Billy May to get off a dozen Rogers and Hart standards, both singer and arranger-conductor rely on their ingenuity to show what can be done with show music. They set themselves a similar assignment sometime back when they cut a Cole Porter album and immediately revived interest in several seemingly too-well-known ballads. Now they have used the same proficiency on twelve songs which have become part of our national cultural legacy.
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