Sunday, May 30, 2010

Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer

Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer may not be the best documentary every made, but for jazz fans, it's a gold mine. What's most amazing to me is her longevity. She was a swing and jazz big band performer in the 40s, became a jazz solo act and toured the country and the world, all while being a heroin addict. Most of her contemporaries killed themselves at that time, but somehow she survived.

This movie covers her entire career, much of it with her music, and much of it with prior footage from film and television all over the world. But there's also a wealth of new interviews with major names. The movie gets better as it goes along. Early footage is a bit confusing. It's rare for me to say this, but more subtitles explaining time and place (and even people's names) would have helped set things up better. But it's worth wading through the tough part.

Highly recommended for jazz fans.

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