10 Songs, 34 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Arguably the crown jewel of Anita O’Day’s Verve albums, All the Sad Young Men pairs the irrepressible singer with a young arranger with a unique vision — 27-year-old Gary McFarland, who retains and respects O’Day’s big-band roots but comes up with ways to repaint them. On “Boogie Blues,” a signature song for Anita when she sang with Gene Krupa’s band in the ‘40s, McFarland retains the bluesy swing, but turns it into a waltz, with different parts of the orchestra swooping in and out at different moments for embellishments. Rather than belt it out or swing forward at full speed, O’Day chooses to ride the breeze of her arrangement, and her understated approach gives the song — and the album as a whole — a sophisticated, nonchalant aura. Its stateliness and colorful arrangements notwithstanding, the album has a somber veneer, as if McFarland and O’Day were tapping into a subliminal state of melancholy. That melancholy is made explicit on “A Woman Alone with the Blues,” “Night Bird” and the title song, but it’s there even in the rendition of Horace Silver’s “Señor Blues,” a stormy portrait of a drifter that is nearly violent in its choppy rhythms.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Arguably the crown jewel of Anita O’Day’s Verve albums, All the Sad Young Men pairs the irrepressible singer with a young arranger with a unique vision — 27-year-old Gary McFarland, who retains and respects O’Day’s big-band roots but comes up with ways to repaint them. On “Boogie Blues,” a signature song for Anita when she sang with Gene Krupa’s band in the ‘40s, McFarland retains the bluesy swing, but turns it into a waltz, with different parts of the orchestra swooping in and out at different moments for embellishments. Rather than belt it out or swing forward at full speed, O’Day chooses to ride the breeze of her arrangement, and her understated approach gives the song — and the album as a whole — a sophisticated, nonchalant aura. Its stateliness and colorful arrangements notwithstanding, the album has a somber veneer, as if McFarland and O’Day were tapping into a subliminal state of melancholy. That melancholy is made explicit on “A Woman Alone with the Blues,” “Night Bird” and the title song, but it’s there even in the rendition of Horace Silver’s “Señor Blues,” a stormy portrait of a drifter that is nearly violent in its choppy rhythms.

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