Since the age of Swing, Anita O’Day remains a constant inspiration to singers and fans. This writer’s introduction to O’Day’s music was from her days with the Gene Krupa band where she often shared vocals with trumpeter Roy Eldridge. One song that sticks in this aging mind is a simple jump tune titled "Thanks For The Boogie Ride." The song also appeared on film via Sam Coslow’s Soundies Productions
and was shown in any establishment that happened to have a Soundies
juke box. Fans could watch Anita O’Day and the band in glorious black & white for a dime.
The singer appeared with a number of bands over her decades of popularity but she’ll be best remembered for the sides cut with Gene Krupa, Stan Kenton and Count Basie. There were brief associations with Benny Goodman, Buddy Bregman and Woody Herman too. O’Day recorded many albums with her own groups and always featured top jazz players.
Film director Bert Stern produced a classic film titled "Jazz On A Summer’s Day" in 1960. The footage filmed at the Newport Jazz Festival of 1958. The 86 minute reel featured Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, George Shearing, Ben Webster, Thelonius Monk and other major stars BUT, in the eyes of this viewer, nothing was as memorable as Anita O’Day at center stage in a stunning black outfit and a hat that sported white feathers. She sang "Tea For Two" and a sassy version of "Sweet Georgia Brown" backed by the Jimmy Jones trio. Just unforgettable!
Like many other jazz performers, O’Day had ups and downs due to bouts with illness, drugs and alcohol. The singer overcame her problems and now, at age 86, has recorded another album with some of her favorite musicians. The CD was recorded during 2004 and 2005 and went to mastering on Anita’s 86th birthday. The trumpeter on the date is Joe Wilder and he is in his 85th year too. The singer’s voice shows the trials of time but listeners will agree. It’s Anita O’Day in every way. Her attitudes and sense of swing are the same and longtime fans will want to have this recording. I’d like to stress that this album will be enjoyed most by folks who are appreciative of Anita O’Day’s artistry.
Anita O’Day has brought pleasure to the ears of jazz fans for seven decades. To Anita, I say "Thanks For The Boogie Ride." It’s been a blast!