“Anita O’Day was the only white singer in a class with Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughn.”
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Antibes Jazz Festival 1966 [no label, 1CD]
Live in Antibes, France, July 1966. Ex FM stereo. Source is probably the 1990 Italian bootleg Tea For Two (Moon MCD 023-2). Pianist Tete Montoliu’s discography puts the date as either July 23 or 24, 1966 (click here).
Much has been said of O’Day’s near-death experience in 1966.
“An overdose in 1966, the graphic and literally heart-stopping scene that opens High Times (her 1981 book), forced O’Day to clean up her act. She quit cold turkey in Hawaii, lying in the sun on the beach when she had the chills and cooling off in the ocean when she felt feverish.”
This is how O’Day’s autobiography describes the scene:
“Dee [her friend] panicked. She jumped up, ran over and rammed the door like a bulldozer. The door gave and she saw me crumpled on the floor with the hypodermic needle still in my arm. She pulled it out and hid the outfit in her dress…
“…at one point the doctors could detect no heartbeat and were just drawing the sheet over my face - in other words I seemed to be dead - when a young doctor ran in with some contraption he used to get my heart started again.”
This July concert in 1966 was after that incident. Her overdose in L.A. was in March. But it would be two years later before she kicked the habit. What we have here is a performance from that tumultuous year. A year that is usually associated with the wild young men of rock - The Beatles and The Stones, Dylan’s UK tour, Hendrix releasing his first single.
Scooter123 (Thanks again!) who shared this piece of history on the net made this comment: “After listening to this bootleg, I wanted to go get some heroin, and see if it would improve my singing.”
At this show, O’Day manages to duplicate her acclaimed performance of Tea For Two that was captured for Jazz On A Summer’s Day, the 1960 documentary that featured O’Day “zipper-dee-doo-da-ing” through the song at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. Her scatting, albeit all too brief, is displayed on S’Wonderful. Listening, it’s hard to believe she almost died in 1966.
O’Day herself remained unrepentent of her drug use. “All the people from years back, they were all on dope,” she claimed. She estimates she spent over US$400,000 on drugs. Thankfully in 1966 she decided to kick the habit. She lived to a ripe old age of 87.
- Professor Red
Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.
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Track 01. Jordu 1:17 (Irving ‘Duke’ Jordan) (2.1MB)
Track 02. Let’s Fall in Love 4:10 (Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler) (6.9MB)
Track 03. Fly Me to the Moon 4:40 (Bart Howard) (7.7MB)
Track 04. S’Wonderful 2:29 (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) (4.0MB)
Track 05. They Can’t That Away From Me 2:32 (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) (2.3MB)
Track 06. Banter (1.9MB)
Track 07. Tea for Two 5:22 (Irving Caesar, Vincent Youmans) (8.1MB)
Track 08. Outro (940k)
Anita O’Day - vocals
Tete Montoliu - piano
Erik Peter - bass
John Poole - drums
The above show is also found on a grey product out of Europe in 1990. The disc was titled Tea For Two (Moon MCD 023-2) and made in Italy. The rest of the disc was taken up by her performance at the Newport Jazz Festival, 1958.
Anita O’Day’s best works were with Verve. Her recording career stalled in 1962 when her contract with Verve ended. But just before it ended, O’Day recorded All The Sad Young Men with a young Gary McFarland. It was an odd arrangement, as O’Day recorded her vocals in Los Angeles, separated from the band who were in New York. Buy it here.
For fans who want to sample her earlier recordings, get Anita Sings The Most, a collaborative effort with Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown and John Poole and is regarded as her best work. Anita herself has dissed this album. We reckon for the unflattering cover photo. Buy it here.
Fans with money might want to track down a copy of the 9-disc set The Complete Verve/Clef Sessions on Mosaic Records. Only 7,500 sets were made.
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