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Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer (2007)

7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 183 users   Metascore: 76/100
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A tribute to jazz diva Anita O'Day, completed just weeks before her death in November 2006.

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Title: Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer (2007)

Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer (2007) on IMDb 7.8/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Anita O'Day ...
Herself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Leonard Feather ...
Himself
Will Friedwald ...
Himself
Russell Garcia ...
Himself (as Russ Garcia)
Willis Holman ...
Himself (as Bill Holman)
Eddie Locke ...
Himself
Johnny Mandel ...
Himself
...
Himself
John Poole ...
Himself (archive footage)
Denny Roach ...
Himself
...
Herself
Billy Taylor ...
Himself
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Genres:

Documentary | Music

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Details

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Release Date:

30 April 2007 (USA)  »

Box Office

Budget:

$600,000 (estimated)
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First-ever feature documentary on the life of legendary jazz vocalist Anita O'Day. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Connections

Features Jazz on a Summer's Day (1959) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Amazing movie, but Anita wasn't the only great white jazz singer
5 January 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a marvelous film, a worthy tribute to one of the giants of jazz. I was a bit worried at the gimmicky opening -- in which a clip of Anita O'Day was subjected to bizarre color patterns, mirror images and re-editing -- but as the film went on it settled into a conventional but appealing music-documentary groove with O'Day's interviews (some archival, some done especially for this film) providing commentary and context to her career. Filmmakers Robbie Cavolina and Ian McCrudden deserve credit for presenting O'Day's performances, if not as complete songs start-to-finish, at least in long enough clips so you could appreciate her (all too many music documentarians just give us a few seconds here and there, or have people talking over the clips). Though this film is aimed mostly at O'Day's fans, "newbies" can watch it and at least get an idea of what made her so great.

One aspect of the film that fascinated me was O'Day's comment that in order to be a great jazz musician you had to live the "jazz life." I can think of quite a few people on her level of talent -- Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie -- who had long and prosperous careers by avoiding substance abuse and the other pitfalls of the so-called "jazz life." The only part of the movie that really rubbed me the wrong way, though, was the interview clip with the late Leonard Feather (with which the filmmakers seemed to agree) in which he said that O'Day was the only white woman jazz singer he regarded as the artistic equal of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan. What about June Christy, Chris Connor, Peggy Lee or -- in the generation just before O'Day's -- Mildred Bailey (an obvious influence on O'Day's style) and the Boswell Sisters?


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