A documentary look at the improvised life of Anita O'Day (1919-2006), singer and stylist whose timing, phrasing, interpretations, and unique sound put her among the finest vocalists of jazz. Interviews with her late in life are interspersed with archival footage of performances and old interviews as well as with comments by friends, arrangers, critics, and other musicians. She talks about singing without a uvula (sing eighth notes), of jail time for a marijuana arrest, of taking and kicking heroin, of finally making money after appearing at the Newport Jazz Festival, of loss, of a broken arm that almost cost her life, and of living in 4/4 time, one day at a time, smiling. Written by
The film depicts Anita O'Day's emergence as a solo artist and her signing with Bob Thiele's Signature label by showing a cardboard cut-out of her with the slogan, "Hey, ops! I'm on Signature now!" "Ops" meant jukebox operators, who were crucial to the success of a record in the 1930's and 1940's. Not only did they buy a lot of records themselves, they also promoted it by putting it on their jukeboxes. See more »
In one of the interview clips, Anita O'Day says that composer-arranger Gary McFarland died soon after the release of the album they made together, "All the Sad Young Men." McFarland actually lived another 10 years after the 1961 release of his record with O'Day, and died on November 2, 1971. See more »
Fascinating documentary on a great jazz singer who should be more well known. It was a tough life for Anita but the pluck which saw her through many hard times, some admittedly of her own making, is showcased front and center by reminiscences from the lady herself and backed by the people who either knew her when or admire her now. The documentary gives a sense of what kind of life was lived on the road by musicians when communities were scattered and touring was truly done in beat-up old buses and the sense of rootlessness that engendered. Some wonderful performances are highlighted and some terrific tales told of a certain kind of entertainment that is hard to find today.
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