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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.

Garner Show tag

Personnel tag
Vocals- Anita O’Day
Piano- Göran Engdahl
Bass- Roman Dylag
Drums- John Poole

erroll garner

Songs tag
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
Tea For Two

Garner Show tag

Personnel tag
Vocals- Anita O’Day
Piano- George Arvanitas
Bass- Jacky Samson
Drums- Charles Saudrais

Anita O'Day

Songs tag
Let’s Fall In Love
Four Brothers
I Can’t Get Started
Sweet Georgia Brown
Tea For Two

Features tag
20-page booklet
Liner notes by Doug Ramsey
Cover photo by Torbjörn Ehrnvall
Booklet photos by Michael J. Nordström, Herman Leonard, Charles Stewart, Calle Ballonka, William “PoPsie” Randolph, Jan Persson
Memorabilia collage
Total time: 60 minutes


Liner Notes Preview tag

Sample Liner Notes by Doug Ramsey:

Stockholm, Sweden, June 25, 1963
With the increasing popularity of rock and roll driving down demand for jazz in the United States, O’Day took work where she could find it. Jazz audiences were still burgeoning in Europe and Japan. Frequently performing abroad during the 1960s and 1970s, she used a variety of rhythm sections that most often included Poole, who provided musical, moral and narcotics-acquisition support. She recruited pianists and bassists on the continent. Evenings from June 24 to 30, 1963, O’Day and her trio played before thousands of listeners on a big outdoor stage at the Tivoli Gröna Lund amusement park in Stockholm. Their late-night concerts were in Tivoli’s Narren/Arena Theatre. Producer Lasse Sarii filmed them there on June 25. Swedish TV broadcast the performance in its Trumpeten program on November 1, 1963.

Pianist Göran Engdahl (1938-2001) became a teacher, pursuing jazz as a parallel career. Jazz historian Lars Westin recalls that Engdahl “was considered one of the finest young pianists” in Sweden. The Polish bassist Roman Dylag spent many years in Scandinavia. The repertoire in Stockholm is typical of the songs O’Day sang following her triumph at Newport. She begins with one of her Newport tunes, “Sweet Georgia Brown,” swinging joyfully from the outset. “Let’s Fall In Love” discloses the rhythmic daring and elasticity of time in which O’Day surpassed all other singers. She gives “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square” one perfect chorus. It has a sample of why Bill Kirchner admired Poole’s work with brushes. The close-ups of O’Day in “Fly Me To The Moon” show us an aspect of her art that was important to her success; her skill as a natural actress who used eye movement, posture, gestures and subtle changes of head position to illuminate her performance. Engdahl’s solo chorus reveals a bit of what Westin referred to when he said the young pianist was highly regarded; touch and harmonic sensitivity that show the influence of Bill Evans, who by 1963 was the new jazz piano hero.


Oslo, Norway, October 21, 1970
This concert at the spacious Njardhallen Sportshall just outside Oslo was the first stop in a European tour under the auspices of George Wein’s Newport Jazz Festival organization. Wein recalls that there were also appearances in Paris and Milan. Pianist George Arvanitas, bassist Jacky Samson and drummer Charles Saudrais were a tight-knit French trio who worked together frequently and recorded both as a unit and as accompanists to horn players and singers. Arvanitas (1931-2005) worked with musicians ranging in style from traditional clarinetist Mezz Mezzrow to the avant-garde tenor saxophonist David Murray. Along the way, he played with Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie and Dexter Gordon, among many others.

O’Day warms up with “Let’s Fall In Love,” a fixture in her sets. If by now evidence is needed that she was a true improvising musician, contrast this adventurous version with the comparatively staid one seven years earlier in Stockholm. She manipulates phrasing, stretching time across bars and within bars, never for a second interrupting the continuity of her swing. It takes a solid rhythm section to go with this unique flow. By 1970, the Beatles’ “Yesterday” had been a chart-topping single for more than five years, so putting it in a medley with Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays” was logical enough. Dozens of performers did that, but in her canny melding and contrasting of the songs, O’Day gave the conceit dramatic as well as musical validity. Arvanitas’ solo indicates more of Bill Evans’ pervasive influence among pianists.


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