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Jazz Icons: Anita O'Day Live in '63 & '70
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Jazz Icons: Anita O'Day- Live In '63 & '70
Jazz Icons: Anita O'Day boasts two wonderful concerts from 1963 and 1970 that present the 'jazz singer supreme' in impeccable form. O'Day's horn-based approach to singing is in full effect throughout both shows including stand-out renditions in each show of audience favorites 'Tea For Two' and 'Sweet Georgia Brown' (both reprised from her triumphant appearance at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.) This DVD is a fitting testimony to one of jazz music's true originals and shows unequivocally why she is ranked in the top tier of vocalists along with Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday.
The release of the fourth installment of the Jazz Icons series now brings it up to 30 separate DVDs and over 40 hours of vintage jazz performances, making this the most comprehensive music DVD series of any genre. Reelin' In The Years who produced the Jazz Icons series are also responsible for the Grammy-nominated American Folk Blues Festival series, the multi-platinum selling Definitive Motown series (Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles) and the British Invasion series (Small Faces, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Dusty Springfield, and Herman's Hermits.) As in all of their projects, each DVD is produced with the full support and cooperation of the artists or their estates.
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About the concerts:
The first part of the DVD was filmed in Stockholm, Sweden on June 25, 1963, She is accompanied by Swedish pianist Göran Engdahl (who also took the photo that graces the cover of the DVD case), Polish bassist Roman Dylag, and her partner-in-crime and favorite drummer, John Poole.
Her performance is dazzling. She takes total charge of the stage, musicians and audience and blasts through her setlist without missing a beat or a false note. As a drummer I greatly appreciated seeing shots of John Poole, who is one of my drum idols. The songs were: Sweet Georgia Brown, Let's Fall In Love, A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square, Fly Me To The Moon, Honeysuckle Rose, On Green Dolphin Street and Tea For Two.
Anita's rendition of "A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square" is ample evidence that she was as adept at singing a ballad as she was on the fast tempo pieces for which she is well known.
On the second part of the DVD, filmed in Oslo, Norway on October 21, 1970, she was accompanied by George Arvanitas on piano, Jacky Samson on bass and Charles Saudrais on drums.
Her setlist was shorter for this performance, consisting of Let's Fall In Love, Yesterday/Yesterdays, Four Brothers, I Can't Get Started, and, of course, Sweet Georgia Brown and Tea For Two that were staples of her act.
She was as energetic as she was in the first performance, and, if anything, perhaps delivered her vocals even better than she did seven years earlier! That's a judgement call. She did deviate from her tried and true standards with a medley of the Beatles' Yesterday with Yesterdays - and managed to pull it off. The only missing ingredient in this performance is John Poole, her drummer for decades.
Overall, this is an essential set of performances for Anita O'Day fans, and my favorite of all of her videos that I own (which includes Live in Tokyo '63 and Anita O'Day: Live at Ronnie Scott's.)
The performances of course are excellent: she was clearly a master of jazz vocals. O'Day was always inventive. Her command of pitch and timing was impeccable, and her phrasing always made you hear new things in lyrics.
The glossy color insert is a generous 20 pages and - fans take note - includes photos I have not seen elsewhere.
Apparently mastered from two Scandanavian TV shows of 40 years ago, the sound and video are excellent. My only regret is that the DVD lasts only an hour.