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Anita O’Day: Remembering The Boogie Ride

This week on Afterglow we note the passing of a legendary jazz vocalist, Anita O’Day, who scored a smash hit with the song “Let Me Off Uptown”.

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Anita O'Day Album Cover

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Anita O'Day's vo-cool style influenced a whole school of singers that included June Christy and Chris Connor.

This week on Afterglow we note the passing of a legendary jazz vocalist, Anita O’Day, who died on Thanksgiving Day 2006 at the age of 87.

O’Day began her career as a dancer in Depression walkathons, then moved on to the 1940s world of big-band singing, where she became a star in Gene Krupa’s orchestra, scoring a smash hit with the song “Let Me Off Uptown” (which also earned notoriety in then-segregated America for its vocal wordplay between the white O’Day and black trumpeter Roy Eldridge).

She went on to record other swing-era hits with Krupa and Stan Kenton and made a stunning series of small-group and big-band albums for jazz impresario Norman Granz in the 1950s. Her vo-cool style influenced a whole school of singers that included June Christy and Chris Connor.

Drug busts and a long-running heroin addiction darkened O’Day’s image, leading the press to dub her “the Jezebel of Jazz.” Her 1981 autobiography, High Times Hard Times , details her personal struggles and her overwhelming love of music. Passionate and hard-living even as she performed into her final years, O’Day is routinely ranked among the all-time greats of vocal jazz. In this program we’ll hear many of her classic recordings from the 1940s and 50s, as well as excerpts from an interview I did with her in 2003. “Anita O’Day: Remembering the Boogie Ride” airs Friday, December 1 at 10:05 EST on WFIU.

(Note: the Frank Sinatra V-disc program scheduled for this week will be broadcast on Friday, January 5 instead.)

Music Heard On This Episode

Opus 1
Anita O'Day/Gene Krupa — Let Me Off Uptown (Columbia/Legacy, 1945)
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Opus 1
Anita O'Day/Gene Krupa — Let Me Off Uptown (Columbia/Legacy, 1945)

Notes: With Gene Krupa's orchestra.

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Exactly Like You
Anita O'Day — I Get a Kick Out of You (Evidence, 1975)
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The Lady in Red
Anita O'Day/Stan Kenton — The Young Anita (Proper, 1944)

Notes: Live recording from 1944.

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I Can't Get Started
Anita O'Day — This Is Anita (Verve/Mosaic, 1955)

Notes: Also on JAZZ MASTERS cd and Mosaic COMPLETE VERVE/CLEF SESSIONS. With Buddy Bregman's orchestra.

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Georgia On My Mind
Anita O'Day/Gene Krupa — Let Me Off Uptown (Columbia/Legacy, 1941)
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Let Me Off Uptown
Anita O'Day/Gene Krupa — Let Me Off uptown (Columbia/Legacy, 1941)

Notes: With Roy Eldridge.

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Skylark
Anita O'Day/Gene Krupa — Let Me Off Uptown (Columbia/Legacy, 1941)
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And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine
Anita O'Day/Stan Kenton — Complete Capitol Recordings 1943-47 (Mosaic, 1944)
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Them There Eyes
Anita O'Day — Classic Capitol Jazz Sessions (Mosaic, 1945)

Notes: Also on Anita O'Day 1949-50 on the Baldwin Street label.

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Ain't Misbehavin'
Anita O'Day/Nat King Cole — King Cole Trio: the MacGregor Years, 1941-45 (Music and Arts, 1945)
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What Is This Thing Called Love?
Anita O'Day — I Told Ya I Love Ya, Now Get Out (Signature, 1947)
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Key Largo
Anita O'Day — I Told Ya I Love Ya, Now Get Out (Signature, 1947)
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How High the Moon
Anita O'Day/Count Basie — At the Royal Roost 1948 (Drive, 1948)
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Lover Come Back to Me
Anita O'Day — Complete Verve/Clef Sessions (Mosaic, 1952)
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Waiter, Make Mine Blues
Anita O'Day — Jazz Masters (Verve, 1960)

Notes: With Russ Garcia's Orchestra. Also on the LP WAITER, MAKE MINE BLUES and the Mosaic collection.

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You're the Top
Anita O'Day — Swings Cole Porter With Billy May (Verve, 1955)

Notes: Bonus track on CD--actually recorded with Buddy Bregman's orchestra.

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A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square
Anita O'Day — This Is Anita (Verve, 1955)

Notes: With Buddy Bregman's orchestra. Also on Mosaic collection.

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Man With a Horn
Anita O'Day — Pick Yourself Up With Anita O'Day (Verve, 1956)

Notes: With Buddy Bregman's orchestra. Also on the Mosaic collection.

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That's What You Think
Anita O'Day/Gene Krupa — Drummer Man (Verve, 1956)

Notes: Also on the Mosaic collection.

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That Old Devil Moon
Anita O'Day — Anita Sings the Most (Verve, 1957)

Notes: With the Oscar Peterson trio. Also on the Mosaic set.

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Sweet Georgia Brown
Anita O'Day — Jazz On a Summer's Day

Notes: 1958 Newport jazz festival.

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Tea for Two
Anita O'Day — Jazz On a Summer's Day

Notes: From the Newport Jazz Festival 1958.

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To Keep My Love Alive
Anita O'Day — Anita O'Day and Billy May Swing Rodgers and Hart (Verve, 1960)
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If the Moon Turns Green
Anita O'Day — Travlin' Light (Verve, 1961)

Notes: Tribute to Billie Holiday. Recorded with Johnny Mandel's orchestra.

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Your Red Wagon
Anita O'Day/Cal Tjader — Time for Two (Verve, 1962)

Notes: Also on the Mosaic collection.

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A Song For You
Anita O'Day — I Get a Kick Out of You (Evidence, 1975)

Notes: Leon Russell song.

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In a Mellotone
Anita O'Day — In a Mellotone (DRG, 1989)
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The Song Is You
Anita O'Day — At Mr. Kelly's (Verve, 1958)
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