Reference: FSRCD 5507
Bar code: 8427328655071
"I saw Anita O'Day live in 1987, at Teatro Principal in Valencia. Her and clarinetist Buddy DeFranco were the guest artists in tour with Woody Herman’s Orchestra, which was then led by Frank Tiberi. I barely knewher then; she looked like a nice old grandma, but I wasn’t impressed. Almost 70 then, her best days were behind her. I discovered her little by little, thanks to the wonderful albums that I slowly managed to get my hands on, and to films like Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1960), where a hat with feathers, a pair of white gloves and a black cocktail dress became the iconic get-up that today we associated with her.
In any case, for those of us without ties to her and her times, her independent character, her defiance of apartheid, her addiction problems and her flashes of genius on stage feel very far away. For us, Anita O'Day means mainly a vocal style. A style that share with Billie Holiday the limitations of their tone and timbre —as well as the creative solutions to overcome them—, with Ella Fitzgerald the passion of rhythm, and with Mel Tormé the overwhelming imagination necessary to recreate well-known songs and turn theminto one surprise after another.
Teresa Luján is also an independent soul among us. A singer who spends her time teaching and investigating —she is one of the foremost experts in Tete Montoliu when she decides to face an audience, it is always after careful consideration of the project. She is not particularly keen on experimenting, butwhen she looks back in search of inspiration, there isn’t a hint of nostalgia in her eye. Her interest in Henry Mancini or the Boswell sisters is focused on the more timeless aspects of their work. Now, with her tribute to Anita O'Day she wants to highlight just how modern she was.
This CD also represents a step forward in Teresa Lujan’s career as a singer. For the first time she is confronting an artistwith a similar stylistic frame, range and color to her own. Although Teresa’s voice has a deeper timbre and a more pronounced vibrato, she manages to sidestep the main danger in this endeavor, which was imitation. And she does so using her strongest suit, which she also shares with her admired O’Day: the more jazz-oriented aspects of her craft. And being backed by a trio —and an excellent trio at that,withMiano, Ferrer and Pérez, experts inmaking the music walk— a fresh, swinging approach is guaranteed. When all is said and done, a feeling of freedom pervades their music, and the end result belongs to all of them, not taxes, no tolls, no buts.
The choice of songs hearkens back to Anita O'Day, but with subtle innovations with respect to her better-known versions. The first three tracks were already on the LP 'Anita' (1956), with orchestrations by Buddy Bregman and some tunes for small group. Teresa Luján’s «Fine and Dandy» still uses the original arrangement, but focusing more on the pure vocal sensuality of the first bars, to later go into a beautiful scat that remindsme of Chet Baker. From the initial walkin’ bass, «Honeysuckle Rose» also sounds like the 1956 arrangement, but Teresa adds a vocal solo, followed by two more by Richi Ferrer and Fabio Miano. «A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square» is the first ballad,which lets Teresa showmore of her personality, her range of colors and phrasing, as she let’s herself be dragged by the beautiful melody, never straying too far from the intimacy that O'Day imparted to her own version.
«Sing, sing, sing», uno of Benny Goodman’s hits,was recreated by O'Day in 'Anita O'Day Sings the Winners' —her own homage album—, backed by the orchestra of Russ Garcia, and foregoing the famous quote from«Christopher Columbus». Luján’s version iswell adapted to the trio format; it is somewhat contained, but very dynamic. «Pick Yourself Up» is the Jerome Kern original that gave title to an O'Day LP also with Bergman alternating with a small group. The original version sounds almost like a recital, fast and rhythmic which Luján follows closely and makes her own. In less than three minutes there’s time even for a beautiful solo by Fabio, whose good taste is unfailing.
The little known «Somebody’s Crying» comes from a 1952 recording with the orchestra of Larry Russell, a Hollywood arranger and co-writer of the tune. Teresa Luján was drawn to its combination of blues and ballad, which she approaches with a display of vocal colors and her unique brand of sensual accent. Miano’s piano goes on a decidedly blues trip. Irving Berlin’s «Let’s Face the Music and Dance» follows, a song first brought to life by Fred Astaire and which usually feels slow. Anita O'Day’s rendition has a Latin beat with a hard bop tinge. The backing trio feels comfortablewith these stylistic licenses, embracing themwith contagious enthusiasm.
With Jimmy Giuffre’s «Four Brothers» we go back to 'Anita O'Day Sings The Winners.' Teresa Lujan’s rendition includes solos by herself, piano and double bass; let’smake a note for curious collectors, that Teresa quotes «Ain’t She Sweet», from 1927, recorded by The Beatles in 1961 (and by no other than Marujita Díaz in 1959). In the return, she recovers the lyrics written by the great Jon Hendricks for Manhattan Transfer. It is a version full of bebop spunk. Then comes «Drum Boogie», one of Gene Krupa’s greatest hits, with an arrangement that has somemore rhythmic freedom, some harmonic surprises and a shared spotlight.
The next ballad on the CD is «Tenderly», mainly associated to Sarah Vaughan, but which O'Day included in her album 'Anita Sings the Most' A year earlier it had been recorded by Billie Holiday, so it won’t be for lack of heavy-weight referents... Although she playfully recognizes O'Day’s influence, Teresa delivers a personal rendition in a song where she can display her musicality and attention to the lyrics. The soloist this time is Richi Ferrer, with a classical style and flavor. As for «Whisper Not», by Benny Golson, is is one of the melodies most heavily linked to the hard bop era. O'Day and Mel Tormé were the first well-known singers to record Leonard Feather’s lyrics. She did so in 'Anita O'Day and The Three Sounds' (1962). Fabio follows that version closely at first, but then recovers the usual solo structure that O'Day had changed in her version.
«Tea for Two» closes the album, al old-timey standardwhere Anita O'Day let loose all her imagination and sense of humor. Although she recorded it with Krupa, the version she references is the one from 'Anita O'Day at Mister Kelly’s' (1958). Teresa bases her rendition on it, respecting almost every detail of the fast-paced original, although Fabio adds a long intro in ballad time. O'Day's fours exchange with her faithful drummer John Poole is also kept here, giving Julio Pérez a chance to use his winged brushes.
As the last tune ends, I wonder what I would think today of that 1987 concert with Anita O'Day. I would probably enjoy it more, for one. I also realize I have really enjoyed this album with Teresa, Fabio, Richi and Julio. It’s is a homage made for an audience, with sincere admiration and no trace of arrogance or pompousness. With themain tool required when embarking in projects such as this: talent."
—Jorge Garcia (From the inside liner notes)