According to Anita O’Day “Pick Yourself Up and Anita Sings The Most please me artistically because the preparation was careful and the musicians class A.” And who are we to argue?
Anita Sings The Most was recorded in January 1957 at Universal Studios in Chicago and features ten standards given the unique O’Day treatment. She demonstrates why she was so popular as a singer, despite her difficulties brought about by drugs and an upbringing that would have floored many. This album has the added advantage of some inspired playing by Oscar Peterson and Herb Ellis; they bring so much the material and allow O’Day to take off on her vocal flights of fancy.
In her autobiography, High Times, Hard Times – a must-read if you love jazz – O’Day claimed the sessions were hurried because she was anxious not to run up unnecessary overtime costs in the studio in case it affected her recouping against her $100,000 advance that Verve had given her. The album does not suffer from this; it was standard to record an album in a day in the 1950s. The cover artwork leaves much to be desired, but the passing of time has not diminished her achievements at Verve; despite the fact that O’Day was bitter at her treatment from her label’s owner Norman Granz who she claimed favoured Ella… not an unreasonable assertion.
For us her best, especially ‘Tenderly and ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’, but what about you?