Album:Ultimate Anita O'Day
Anita O'Day is one of the all time great jazz vocalists. She is best known for her days with Gene Krupa in the 40s. But she went on to have a lengthy solo career most notably for Verve from 1951-64. She originally performed Boogie Blues with Krupa and it became one of her signature songs. She was born Anita Belle Colton Oct. 18, 1919 in Kansas City, MO. She grew up in Chicago. She left home at age 14 to tour as a dancer with Walk-a-thons dance marathons. She sang occasionally and she was determined to be a professional singer. This began when she met and married drummer Don Carter in 1937. He taught her music theory. She worked in the Chicago club Off Beat and that's when Gene Krupa saw her. She joined the Krupa band in 1941. Of course that band was very popular and had many hits. That band disbanded when Krupa was arrested for marijuana possession in 1943. Anita worked for Woody Herman and Stan Kenton and then returned to Krupa in 1945. That stint only lasted a year but it did yield the hit Boogie Blues written by Krupa. Anita went solo in 1946 and she recorded for several labels including Coral and Mercury. She also went to jail for marijuana possession along with her husband Carl Hoff. When she got out, she sang with Herman, Kenton and Count Basie. Then she signed with Norman Granz in 1951. She recorded for Norgran, Clef and then for Verve beginning in 1956. Meanwhile, she got addicted to heroin and almost landed in jail again. In the studio she usually worked with the Verve house band led by Oscar Peterson. Drummer John Poole led her touring band for years. By 1960, Granz wanted to retire. So he sold Verve to MGM in 1961. They put Creed Taylor in charge of Verve. Anita's re-recording of Boogie Blues is from the 1962 album All The Sad Young Men. Here she is working with a larger band arranged and conducted by Gary McFarland. Musicians are Bernie Glow, Herb Pomeroy and Doc Severinsen on trumpet, Bob Brookmeyer and Willie Dennis on trombone, Phil Woods and Walter Levinsky on clarinet and alto sax, Zoot Sims on tenor sax, Hank Jones on piano, George Duvivier on bass and Mel Lewis on drums. You can get Boogie Blues on this comp compiled by Alan Paul of Manhattan Transfer. Anita left Verve soon after and had serious drug problems through the 60s. She returned at the 1970 Berlin Jazz Festival and she recorded mostly for her own label until her death on Nov. 23, 2006 at age 87. In the 80s, she appeared on TV a lot talking about her drug addiction. No doubt a lot of this footage turns up in the 2007 documentary Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer. I may have to check that out. Here's Anita O'Day with John Corwin on piano and Toshiyuki Miyama and The All-Star Orchestra performing Boogie Blues at TBS Studio in Tokyo Dec. 30, 1963.