Listen to Keely Smith and you'll hear shades of Anita O'Day. Listen to Chris Connor or June Christy and hear Anita O'Day. Listen to Anita O'Day and hear a great jazz vocalist.
This collection of songs was recorded more than 25 years ago, after O'Day had ended her days as a big-band singer with Gene Krupa and Stan Kenton. It displays in full measure her rich, husky voice and phrasing reminiscent of Billie Holliday. The songs range from such romping numbers as "Hi Ho Trailus Boot Whip" (a nonsense hip-talk novelty) to such classics as "How High the Moon," on which O'Day lets fly with three or four tempo changes.
Best by far, though, are the tough-talking title cut; "Malaguena," scatted from start to finish; and the lush, lovely "Key Largo," in an arrangement by the song's composer, Benny Carter.
The album's lapses have nothing to do with the singer, but with whoever left unnamed many of its composers, lyricists and musicians. On this project, everyone involved deserves credit. (Sony)