"A Song Stylist In Swingland"
March 21 - 27, 2021
Year of Release: 2005
Let Me Off Uptown
Georgia On My Mind
I Take To You
Stop The Red Light's On
Watch The Birdie
Bolero At The Savoy
Harlem On Parade
Murder He Says
And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine
The Lady In Red
(Singing The) Blues
What Is This Thing Called Love
Sweet Georgia Brown
How High The Moon
Love For Sale
The Lady Is A Tramp
Ain't This A Wonderful Day
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When I was a kid, one of the many 45s I had, was a song called "What Is This Thing Called Love." It's considered a classic from the pre-Rock years.
Throughout the many decades that followed, I was trying to locate that song, but unfortunately, I didn't remember the female vocalist. And, I didn't have the 45
no longer in my possession. From what I did remember, I remembered the label, thinking it was the old purple Capitol label, which such artists as Frank Sinatra
and Nat King Cole recorded on. Throughout those years, I thought this version was recorded by Margaret Whiting. In looking up her music, it wasn't listed.
Then, I thought it was Lena Horne. I was familiar with Margaret Whiting's music, rather than Lena Horne. I believe Leana Horne had recorded it, but it was not
the version I remembered. What stood out in this particular version, was that it was scat-jazz vocalization. And it was very upbeat, and jazzy. A few years ago,
I was scrolling through my Facebook, and throughout the many music related sites that appeared there, an artist by the name of Anita O'Day appeared.
I had never heard of her, so I was curious. I went to YouTube, and searched for her version of the classic tune. Lo, and behold, it was exactly the version I had
when I was younger. In researching her, her version of "What Is This Thing Called Love" was recorded in 1947, on the Signature label. I looked up the 45
single, and the colors of the Signature label, did resemble the colors of the old Captiol label. So, now it was hunting time, to find Anita O'Day's music.
There were cds of her music out there, but the version on YouTube (luckily) had a picture of the album cover in the video. It was called A Song Stylist In
Sswingland. It was a compilation of her music, from 1941 to 1952. I was fortunate to find this album on cd, through eBay. So, it was grateful, that I was
able to find this gem, the exact recording and knowing who the artist was. And, listening to other songs from her, Anita O'Day.
Throughout her career, Anita O'Day had recorded for various labels: Columbia, Capitol (19441-1946), Signature, Coral, Advance, Alto, Mercury (1946-1951),
Clef, Norgan (1951-1956), Verve (1956-64) [There were compilations of her Verve recordings, as I was searching to find the song I was looking for.] BASF/MPS (1970),
Emily Records, 1975-present (which became Emily Productions; owned by O'Day and John Poole), Dobre (1977-1978).
Starting with the year 1941, "Let Me Off Uptown" would become her first big hit, recorded with Gene Krupa. The male vocalist on this recording was Roy
Eldrige. In fact, the first 11 songs from this compilation, were recorded with Krupa. Also to mention, her list of collaborations with other well-known band leaders
throughout her career was quite exceptional.) Truly a great Big Band sound on this first recording, and with Krupa. 1941 was the year of the first 9 tracks, 1942
for tracks 10 and 11. 1941: "Let Me Off Uptown," "Georgia On My Mind," "Slow Down," "Drum Boogie," "I Take To You," "Stop! The Red Light's On," "Watch The
Birdie," "Skylark," "Bolero At The Savoy." 1942: "Harlem On Parade," "Murder He Says." [Note: The label mentioned in the CD booklet listed Okeh as
the label of these Krupa recordings. Other labels mentioned are on this compilation: Capitol, Columbia, Signature, Mercury and/or Clef. There were other recordings,
from McGregor Transcription, AFRS (Armed Forces Radio; One Night Stand), and "Royal Roost" Broadcast.]
More of the great Big Band sound continues in 1944, with the Nat King Cole Trio, and the classic "Ain't Misbehavin'." Anita O'Day sings with Stan Kenton's
orchestra on the next three songs, 1944: The jivn' "And Her Tears Flowed Line Wine," the great Big Band sounding "The Lady In Red," the more of a
lounge band sounding (yet it's still great Big Band music), "(Singing The) Blues."
The next track is from 1945, and conducted by Lowell Martin - "How Come?" And it's another great Big Band number. Likewise, "Opus #1" (arranged by
S. Oliver) is the well-known song that the Mills Brothers would record. 1945, and returning with the Gene Krupa Orchestra is next, on "Boogie Blues."
Then there's the classic tune next, that I have been looking for ages - "What Is This Thing Called Love." It is a great feeling to find a song that you've
been searching for. This song was recored in 1947, with the Will Bradley Orchestra.
"Sweet Georgia Brown" is next, with Todd Dameron and His Trio, 1948. Sounding way different than the famous Harlem Globtrotters version, likewise sounding
different than the typical Big Band sound. Still, it's jazzy, and another great song. The popular "How High The Moon" has Count Basie conducting, 1948.
And, it's different than the familiar version by Les Paul & Mary Ford, as it has the same scat-jazz style of "What Is This Thing Called Love." Jazzy.
"Love For Sale" has Roy Eldridge arranging, from 1952. Roy Kral and His Quintet arranges the next track, from 1952, the classic "The Lady Is A
Tramp," more on the jazz lounge style. Ending the year 1952, and the compilation, is "Ain't This A Wonderful Day?" arranged by Larry Russell and His
Orchestra. It's another great Big Band sounding tune.
Ain't This A Wonderful Compilation? Yes, Indeed... I have never heard of Anita O'Day, yet it was a treasure to discover her, since she sang a song that I have
been hunting down for, for decades. This is a great compilation by a great singer. In researching her on Wikipedia, her life had its ups and downs. Her life was
similiar to Billie Holiday. Not only was her music in her later years would be compared more to Billie, her demons was drugs and alcohol (like Billie Holiday).
And Anita O'Day could have easily left us in this world, due to her abuse of drugs and alcohol, which resulted with Billie Holiday. Yet, Anita O'Day lived to be
87 years old. She was in a convalescent hospital in West Hollywood, recovering from pneumonia. Two days before her death, she had demanded to be released.
On Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2006, she died in her sleep. The official cause of death was cardiac arrest.
Anita O'Day has left behind a great music career. There are other compilations of her music, yet A Song Stylist In Swingland captures great musical
moments. Not only that, her credits with other great band leaders as well. Anita O'Day was probably not a household name, compared to other well-known female
singers of her era. She just maybe one of those many singers who were overlooked. If you enjoy great Big Band music, and Jazz, A Song Stylist In Swingland
by Anita O'Day is a great compilation to get, and discover what a great musical voice she had.
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