Anita O’Day at Mr Kelly’s

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But Not for Me

I Have A Reason for Living

My Love for You

Varsity drag
It Never Entered My Mind

Tea For Two

Every Time I’m With You

Have You Met Miss Jones

The Wildest Gal in Town

Star Eyes

Loneliness Is A Well

The Song is You

Cover photo by Herman Leonard

It’s become the fashion, since the jazz at the Philharmonic concert albums, to record Jazz artists in front of live audiences. Like any other documentary the results can be excellent or, to put it mildly, less than excellent. This trend of recording in the concert hall before live audiences was extended to the nightclubs and it has since become equally fashionable to record an artist, particularly singers, in these caves. 

The combination of acoustics, there rapport with the audience, and the general atmospheric conditions determine almost as much as the skill and talent of the singer, how these things come off. Mr. Kelly’s a perfectly sized nightclub in the heart of Chicago’s Rush Street cafe belt, offers the acoustic excellence and listening qualities necessary to any good recording activity. Chicago, long noted for its appreciation of Jazz provides the proper audience and audience reaction necessary for the singers to give-and-take that makes these albums permissible. 

Atmospherically, a if few cities possess, for some reason, a kind of feel, or smell, or taste, if you will, that provides the artist and the listener with that extra bit of electricity that is, though indefinable, necessary for the plus effort. New York has it; San Francisco has it; and Chicago has a large measure of it. Thus, all the necessary ingredients with there for Anita’s effort at Mr. Kelly’s. 

With Anita O’Day you can either refer to any encyclopedia of Jazz, or your nearest trade journal, or any poll, at your own choosing, to convince yourself that she is one of the great singers in the history of jazz; if none of the aforementioned is available to you, then the easiest and most satisfying way of determining that fact is to listen to records or if possible see her in person. Like Count Basie, Anita swings, and swings hard; she couldn’t do otherwise even if she tried, and in the slowest ballad you still feel that insistent pulsation and beat going at all times. Anita’s musical style is, to say the least, personal and original; she has had, For whatever it’s worth, several derivatives from her originality, and Anita has been a around long enough and her perception is keen enough to have absorbed musical changes, so that all in all you have the qualities necessary for good Jazz Singer: musical sense, style, and beat. 

Anita possesses a kind of wry, sly humor and this is evident not only in her singing, but in some of the acknowledgments to the audience before and after her numbers. 

The rhythm section consisted of John Poole, the drums; Joe Masters, piano and L. B. Wood, bass.

But for one or two exceptions, the numbers she sings have the virtue, particularly those written by Joe Albany and his wife, of being little heard, so that the total effort on Anita O’Day at Mr. Kelly’s becomes fresh and I hope thoroughly satisfying. 

-Norman Granz