2 LPs on 1 CD
The late, great Anita O'Day was perhaps the finest of the comparative handful of jazz singers good enough to emerge enhanced from the over-riding influence of Billie Holiday. So, when she made "Trav lin' Light" as a tribute to her inspiration, it was doubly appropriate that it was one of O Day s most successful albums. The overall mood is one of restraint. On these sides O'Day is at her relaxed, unself-conscious best, sure and swinging, with a deftness and grace that few vocalists could match. At least half of the credit for this goes to arranger-conductor Johnny Mandel, whose charts for the larger ensemble are conceived with taste and intelligence. On "All the Sad Young Men," she again demonstrates her ability to reshape songs through individual interpretation, in a take-it-or-leave-it style that left no doubt about the strength of her personality. Although it features such well-worn standards as St. Louis and Do Nothing, the highlights are new songs by young composers. The man responsible for the striking arrangements was the late Gary McFarland, one of the brightest young composer-arrangers to emerge from the 60s scene. Anita O'Day's years of experience taught her just about every trick in the vocalist's book, and more besides. She was a tough customer and a rough diamond, and though she mellowed and matured as the years passed, she remained unmistakably a diamond among jazz singers.