“An Evening with Anita O’Day” Columbia Records (England) This album started in 1954 (in the US on Norman Granz’ Norgran Records) and was completed by 1955, but not issued until 1956. An Evening With Anita O’Day began its life as Songs By Anita O’Day, a ten-inch record released in 1954 for Norman Granz’ Norgran label and later expanded to its present form. The music is comprised of three small group sessions that took place in Los Angeles in the spring of 1954 and the summer of 1955. These are studio recordings, leaving the listener to assume that the titular “evening” refers to the time of day in which the listener will want to experience these songs, which feel like they must have been recorded by candlelight. Stellar guitar work by Tal Farlow and Barney Kessel
I had an evening with Anita O’Day. She’s been one of my favorite singers for as long as I can remember. It was in the Winter of 1984. I had just moved to New York City after college. I saw that she was appearing at a club in Teaneck, NJ – just over the George Washington Bridge. Easy. Or so I thought. Having no money and no car, I tried to walk it from my room on the Upper West Side. It was a snowy night and I ended up willing myself there with a combination of hiking, hitching, bus and subway. Finally inside that warm, intimate jazz room, with Anita sitting on a stool in the spotlight and singing on a low, small stage, the world outside melted away. It was magical. After the first set, I had the gumption to offer her a drink and she took a seat and we talked about her music, her band, her schedule. Meeting your idols can go either way, but she was very nice – sensing, I’m sure, my excitement and appreciation. I stayed for the late show before trudging out through the snow in the early morning feeling that the world was a little smaller and the future filled with wonders.