If ever forced to commit to a list of my 10 favorite vocal albums, I can guarantee Anita O’Day discs would fill at least three of the slots, with Time for 2, her flawless 1962 outing with Cal Tjader, outpacing all others. As the title of one of her uniformly brilliant Verve platters so boastfully but accurately put it, she was, in her day, incomparable.
But that O’Day has passed. Considering what she’s put herself through physically and emotionally (all documented in her pull-no-punches autobiography High Times, Hard Times) over the past 8½ decades, it’s remarkable O’Day is still breathing, let alone singing. The gal must have steel-lined innards. Sadly, her pipes ain’t copper. After so many years of abuse, her sterling vocal prowess has traveled well past rusty to utterly disintegrated.
Great tunes, great arrangements and great players (ace trumpeter Joe Wilder among them) notwithstanding, the 10 vocal tracks included here, all recorded between O’Day’s 84th and 86th birthdays, serve as not only a painful but sad and unnecessary coda to one of the most electric careers in all of jazz history. Even the most ardent fans will find it tough to add this travesty to their O’Day library.