on 30 November 2008
I love Anita O'Day and "The Winners" is one of her very best albums. O'Day's place in the pantheon of great jazz singers is assured, and yet I think there is still a tendency to overlook her contribution. Her sense of time and rhythmic accuracy was extraordinary, and, while she wasn't a song dramatist in the way that Peggy Lee or Frank Sinatra was, she nonetheless captured the emotion of a lyric very persuasively. Still, O'Day was first and foremost a very musicianly singer, and she made her voice part of the band, trading solos and improvising incessantly. "Winners" finds her with some great jazzmen and she seems inspired. The programme runs mainly to jazz compositions like "Whisper Not", "Stompin at the Savoy" and "Hershey Bar", and these intricate, harmonically adventurous tunes inspire some pretty far out improvisations and scat solos. Anita always sounded fantastic on standards, but this is a special chance to hear her really tackle bona fide jazz material. It's a great record.
If you're looking to discover one of the best jazz vocalists of the 20th century, then you needn't look any further than listening to an anita o'day cd and this one ticks all the boxes. She has a great voice, rhythm was always the key to her performances, she played with the great gene krupa and always placed emphasis on her relationship with her drummer. You get great versions of tenderly, sing sing sing and four brothers. Well worth a listen, got to spread the word about this superb songstress.