Anita O'Day: 'Pick Yourself Up with Anita O'Day'

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MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: Hi, I'm Murray Horwitz. One of the great things about the best jazz is its very American attribute of seeking out the new and the different and the challenging, while at the same time it pays its respect to tradition. Today's entry in the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library had made a career of it — Anita O'Day.


HORWITZ: The CD is called Pick Yourself Up with Anita O'Day. On it, you'll hear a woman squarely in the tradition of women jazz vocalists like Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday, but always trying to be different, always thinking, always keeping you off balance. She's endlessly inventive, and one of her favorite tricks is displacing the rhythm. She's always on pitch. She's got great musicianship. And it's a pleasure to hear her work. Check out the title tune.


HORWITZ: There's no mistaking her sound. She's got that raspy little voice, and it spawned a whole school of singers like June Christy, Chris Connor, and Ann Richards. All of them followed Anita O'Day in the Stan Kenton Orchestra, and there's a good number of Kenton alumni among the terrific soloists on this CD. Most of the cuts feature the Buddy Bregman Orchestra. Some of the arrangements get a little corny, and you'll hear nine cuts that didn't make it onto the original LP, and you can tell why. But Anita O'Day is interesting throughout, and you can always hear her smiling.


HORWITZ: The CD is called Pick Yourself Up with Anita O'Day on the Verve label. For more information about it, and about many other records, look online. The Basic Jazz Record Library is supported by NPR member stations, and by the National Endowment for the Arts. For NPR Jazz, I'm Murray Horwitz.

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