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Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Toast to Anita O'Day, a Great Voice, a Strong Lady

Listen up. Today, The Daddy is feeling fed up with a lot of contemporary, commercial music. Frankly, today's contemporary music, with a few exception, is sub-par. It doesn't measure up to the quality American music in the past, especially the music of the 40's or the 60's.

Thinking of the quality music in the past caused The Daddy to search his musical vault and pull out a CD calle
d "Let Me Off Uptown" by the fabulous Gene Krupa band, featuring the smooth-singing Anita O'Day on vocals and the exciting Roy Eldridge on Trumpet. The Daddy will be posting on Roy and Krupa later. In the meantime, here's a post on the great vocalist Anita O'Day. Check it out:

A Toast to Anita O'Day
The Daddy

Anita O'Day died some time ago. She was let off uptown and now is no doubt swinging with the stars under the direction of that great bandleader in the sky.

Born Anita Belle Colton in Chicago,Illinois on October 18, 1919, Anita got her start as a teen by hanging out in a jazz club called Off-Beat. It was there that she met the great jazz drummer Gene Krupa.

She joined Krupa's band in 1941, teaming up with the great jazz trumpeter, Roy Eldridge. They made a hit with a duet called "Let Me Off Uptown." She then did a stint with St
an Kenton's orchestra. Though with Kenton for only a short period of time, she did make a hit called "And the Tears Flowed Like Wine." But her stint with Krupa got her addicted to hard-driving beats and high-flying swing music that made you want to dance the night away. So Anita moved back to Krupa, where she could croon sweet ballads that made couples real close or sing swinging tunes that kept em on the dance floor all night long.


In the late 40's, she met up with John Poole and stayed with him for 32 years. In the 50's, she began touring, doing festivals and concerts. Indeed, it was in 1958 that she performed at the Newport Festival. Called "Jazz on a Summer's Day," this performance was filmed and made her an international star.

O'Day continued to be popular. Between 1957 and 1963, she recorded 16 albums and continued to tour and perform, despite an addiction to heroin, from which she nearly died in 1969. In 1981, she wrote an autobiography detailing her bout with addiction and the highs and lows of her musical career.

While O'Day may have been at her musical best when she was with the Kenton orchestra, she was happiest with Krupa's driving beat and Eldridge's high-flying solos.

The Krupa band never lacked excitement. Krupa was a great jazz drummer who was also credited with integrating a number of hotels. Krupa, a white guy, loved Eldridge's show-stopping solos, performances that matched his swinging, thumping drumming. Eldridge was Black. When hotels told Krupa that Eldridge couldn't stay in their hotel with the rest of his band, Krupa would get angry and sometimes a fight would ensue. After many such well-publicized scraps, hotels relented and let Krupa's entire band stay together. Soon, other hotels followed suit. Thus, Krupa integrated many hotels in the North.

When Krupa played, his head shook like a man having a seizure while sitting. His hands and drumsticks flew all over the bandstand as wild and crazy African beats boogied up and down aisles and danced on walls around the room.

By the time O'Day came on stage, everyone was ready for a little musical sanity. That's when a stunningly beautiful and smiling O'Day would wow them with her rich, smooth voice, elegant dress, and disarming charm. And her seductive and inviting voice served as the perfect contrast to Krupa’s wild drumming and complemented Eldridge's ever-soaring solos. Ever the showman, Eldridge would build on his solos, laying notes like a bricklayer laying bricks; and at a certain, anticipated point, would scream at the top of the trumpet's register, then lower those bricks down again to get everyone and O'Day back into the groove.

Tell you what: Tonight, The Daddy is going to pull out one of Anita's CDs, lift his glass of New Zealand white wine to the sky and say:

"In our short time on earth, everyone of us needs to do at least one thing that's special, that's unique, and uplifting. So here's a toast to you, Anita O'Day, a unique, talented voice, and a splendid person. Lady, you done good."

Ever heard of Anita O'Day?

10 comments:

Somebodies Friend said...

I can feel this part of the story right here MacDaddy:

"When Krupa played, his head shook like a man with a seizure while sitting. His hands and drumsticks flew all over the bandstand as wild and crazy African beats boogied down aisles and danced on walls around the room."

No wonder O'day was swinging with the stars right MacDaddy, I came feel them getting their groove on just thinking about it can't you?

I love your posts about musical greats from days gone by, hopefully we won't have to wait forever for somebody to come along and that can swing those sticks, and get all those fine ladies in the groove the way these folk could always do it.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Back in the day when rock n roll was young and some of my serious musician friends were drummers, they all idolized Krupa as the founding father of ass kickin drum set playing. Our parents branded him as a kook, etc.
Funny, many of the people our parents branded as kooks actually turned out to be great men and women. . .

MacDaddy said...

Somebody: You're right. She swung with the stars on earth and could still be swinging with them in heaven now. Many viewed O'Day as the last of the great jazz singers. She was one of a kind. Thanks.

Sagacious: Yeah, people called him crazy, because of his stage presence. But an old musician friend of mine says that Krupa was actually pretty level-headed. He got a long well with his band members, and he was an astute and tough businessman. And he loved his band. If you crossed him or his band members, he would throw down in a minute. And needless to say, he was a great drummer. Your friends knew what they were talking about.

Christopher said...

Anita O'Day's 'Honeysuckle Rose,' is the best version of the song ever recorded in my opinion.

I'm always amazed when I read how folks like this were able to perform and endure while being addicted to dope for decades.

That shit is so hard on the body. It just wears you down and spends your life force.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Daddy,

I've heard and enjoyed some Anita O'Day. She was eclipsed on that documentary "Jazz On A Summer's Day" by the incomparable Dinah Washington and her band which played after her. However, Anita held her own [on] that stage.

That year, Newport featured Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, the queen of gospel Mahalia Jackson and a slew of other superstars of song of their day on that very stage.

Everyone was excellent-but Dinah stole the show with her four tunes: "All Of Me", "Backwater Blues", "Lover Come Back To Me", and "Send Me To The 'Lectric Chair".

LISA VAZQUEZ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hi Daddy,

I haven't been by here in a while!! I really miss you!!
{hugs}

I had not heard of Anita O'Day!
Thank you for this wonderful history lesson and poignant tribute!!

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa

MacDaddy said...

Lisa: The Daddy misses you too. Hurry back to see me.I'll visit you too.

Anonymous said...

"Yes sir!
I come from a family of musicians.
We were given a formal musical education in our youth. We listented to and learned about all of the founding mothers and fathers of music.

It is too bad that lush and complex music is not really being made today. There is a generation of listeners and producers that do not realize that they/we are being deprived of a superb music experience.
--Deborah White

Jimmycat said...

You guys should check out this new documentary on Anita coming out- Anita O' Day the Life of a Jazz singer. I saw it in Los Angeles in theaters and it was one of the best docs I've seen in years. It was filled with rare performace footage and interviews. Her story is truly amazing, and she had one of the most unique rythmic voices ever. I definatly recomend checking it out if you are at all interested in the history of Jazz.