Here is a little tribute to a great lady of jazz, who recently passed away on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2006.
Anita O'Day (born Anita Belle Colton in 1919 in Chicago, IL) had a unique sound and swinging rhythmic sense that put her in the upper echelon of jazz singers, as skillful with ballads as with scatting and liberal interpretations of standard songs. Her career spans the late swing and bebop eras, inspiring many singers who followed her, such as June Christy, Chris Connor and Helen Merrill. She cited Martha Raye as the primary influence on her vocal style, although she also expressed admiration for Mildred Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. She began her performing career as a ballroom dance contest winner in the 1930's, which is when she adopted the stage name O'Day. At 19, she began singing professionally in clubs around Chicago. In 1941 she joined Gene Krupa's big band, recording a memorable duet with Roy Eldridge on "Let Me Off Uptown", one of the first interracial vocal duets on record. She stayed with the Krupa organization until 1943. In 1944 she joined Stan Kenton's band. She then re-joined Krupa in 1945, remaining there until 1946, when she began a solo career. In the mid-1950's she made a few notable albums for the Verve label, demonstrating the power of her vocals. In 1958 her appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival, replete with characteristic big hat, caused a sensation. She provided one of the highlights of the subsequent film of the festival, "Jazz on a Summer's Day". From that point on she worked mainly on the club circuit with her own groups. Always a hit in Japan, she made her first tour there in 1964, returning on several occasions. In the 1980's and 1990's, she continued to work the club and jazz festival circuits, including a concert at Carnegie Hall in 1985 to celebrate her 50 years in jazz and notable performances at the Vine Street Bar & Grill in Los Angeles in 1992. She still appeared in Paris, in a small jazz club, in 2004.
Crazy, he calls me