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Anita O'Day - The Life Of A Jazz Singer (2009)

Anita O'Day , Robbie Cavolina , Ian McCrudden  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Anita O'Day - The Life Of A Jazz Singer + High Times Hard Times + Four Classic Albums: Anita Sings the Most/The Lady Is a Tramp/An Evening With Anita O'Day/This Is Anita
Price for all three: $49.70

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Product Details

  • Actors: Anita O'Day
  • Directors: Robbie Cavolina, Ian McCrudden
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kayo Stereophonics
  • DVD Release Date: July 21, 2009
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001W3P50O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,024 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Anita O'Day was one of the greatest American Jazz singers and this critically acclaimed award-winning documentary tells her astonishing story - a journey of survival, and above all the enduarance of her talent, told in a number of frank interviews with her and with those who knew her. Her career was long and eventful, spanning seven decades; her last album recorded when she was 84.

Anita O'Day only ever wanted to be a singer and the film showcases performances that date back to the 50's with such artists as Gene Krupa, Roy Eldridge, Stan Kenton, Louis Armestrong and Hoagy Carmichael. She is shown teaching Billy Taylor how to be a jazz vocalist. Bert Stern comments on Anita performing "Sweet Georgia Brown" for his film JAZZ ON A SUMMER'S DAY while George Wein, legendary impresario, states it was the greatest rendition of the song ever made.

She speaks candidly, always candidly, with Dick Cavett, Bryant Gumble and David Frost, and in interviews on 60 Minutes and CBS This Morning. Anita was a woman who lived her life the she wanted without every looking back and was a musical genius and pioneer who broke race barriers. She talks openly about how she had to overcome great adversities, including a 20-year addiction to heroin and alcohol. The film shows Anita on tour in Europe well into her eighties and making her final recording shortly before her death, the death of an icon32 page full color booklet including:
Essay by Jim Gavin.
Essay by Will Friedwald
Selected chapter from Anita s autobiography, High Times Hard Times.
16 pages reproduced from Anita s personal scrapbooks.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No stylist quite like Ms O'Day July 23, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Ms O'Day preferred the title "stylist" as opposed to "singer" which I find an interesting distinction. I gather she made the distinction in acknowledgement that she had little vocal range, an ordinary tone, and a strange timbre.
My first significant encounter with her music was post Gene Krupa with the release in 1956 of ANITA by Norman Granz and the best version of HONEYSUCKLE ROSE with its solo bass opening and quartet of trombones closing the final chorus. The whole album though, was and remains, one of her best, and one of the best of any JAZZ singer. And that's where her reputation so superbly lies - as one of the very best JAZZ vocalists ever, and an individual woman who was a great survivor in a very difficult business - that she was embraced by the jazz community including afro american musicians, she got through the heroin journey, she overcame the "canary" prejudice of "girl" singer by her musical brilliance in being accepted rather as another musical INSTRUMENT instead of the "front" for a band.
This documentary - one of the best (musical ones) I've seen which was featured in the 2008 Sydney Film Festival - also reveals her character. Moral strength, modesty, honesty, understanding and self awareness and I guess, joy of music, of living, are her distinguishing characteristics.
PLenty of good music in the film as well!!
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Under-appreciated jazz vocalist! June 8, 2009
By J
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
For a film documentary profile, there's no substitute for substantial footage of the subject him/herself providing their own reflections on his/her life and career. It's great that this documentary captures so much of Anita's own charmingly candid recollections of the ups and downs in her under-appreciated career. An interesting look of the life of a great, great jazz singer.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Won't find it at Redbox or anywhere save Netflix... September 7, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
But it is worth the price. It covers it all no holds barred.
Story of a great singer/stylist with a dramatic life. Read her book and she for sure was one of a kind and her singing always makes my heart skip and beat faster, love her reditions.
Saw her at the Rainbow Room in '99 and she was well past her prime. Another fan, a girl, and myself asked her if she could sing "Am I Blue" and she said she never heard of it. When we both said it was our favorite she told us to go to the bandstand and sing it ourselves. I was blue after this but after watching the movie I realized I had been O'Dayed by the real thing.
The angels will be hard pressed to keep up with her scat, that is if she made it there but if god loves to swing she is there and doing it her way. Loved her since 1958.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Epitome of Jazz Embodied in a Female Vocalist September 7, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Anita O'Day is the only white female jazz stylist to be ranked up with the greats - Ella, Billie, and Sarah, (and the first female vocalist of Verve Records) so why don't we hear more about her? As a vocalist myself, I feel I may have watched this documentary a little differently than the average viewer and I will say - SHE'S GOT IT. 'IT' being style, class, presence, timbre, quality, and creativity. Her comfort level in the realm of jazz allowed her to fully embody what jazz is and provided the backdrop to improv like no other artist has achieved. She is the greatest.

This video documentary is what the fans have been waiting for packed with interviews, performances, and those who she touched over the years sharing their thoughts of the experiences they had. If you buy the DVD, make sure you buy this version with the book, you will not be sorry! Clippings from O'Days personal scrapbook add a touch of insight into this artists world from fame to drugs and jail to her beautiful outlook on life and enchanting spirit.

My only dislike about this product is during the DVD a few interviews take place but it does not state who the person is or the significance of the person in Anita's life. This does, however, only happen on a few occassions but leaves the viewer guessing. If you have NO IDEA who Anita O'Day is and you can't see yourself spending this much money for the DVD with book, then you can purchase the DVD by itself or I would suggest "Jazz On A Summer's Day" which captures an amazing performance of "Tea for Two" and "Sweet Georgia Brown" from Anita O'Day. I simply cannot say enough about this artist, she is breath taking and will be missed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly informative, insightful and evocative. September 19, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I became an instant fan of Anita's after watching this. A distinguished voice, very natural phrasing right up there with Frank and Billie, and a highly creative mind that among other things enabled her to re-invent herself a few times - you'll learn and see all of this on this engaging documentary/bio. I recommend this dvd over any other similar jazz bio. It's never tedious, does not skim over important details, does not distractingly interrupt the performances, does not shrink from the painful, and the musical and life triumphant rewards are abundant. A must!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best jazz singer you never heard of January 7, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This film appeared at our local fine arts movie theater, and we were stunned with what we saw in this film. We've been anxiously awaiting the release on DVD.

You should have seen the face of a friend who watched the film with us at home. She is completely music-challenged, and yet you could see on her face that she too was amazed & appreciative of O'Day's talent.

If you've never heard of Anita O'Day, then you must have this DVD.
If you already know of her, then you will appreciate this film even more.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Anita O'Day, although not very well known in this ...
Anita O'Day, although not very well known in this day and age, is well known to jazz enthusiast as one of the three Divas of Jazz. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Snow McCammon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing! A great artist that I didn't know, but with this documentary now Im buying her music..
Published 3 months ago by Robert Nichols
5.0 out of 5 stars The Jezebel of Jazz
What a marvelous film telling the story of one of the premiere jazz singers of the 20th Century, The Jezebel of Jazz - Anita O'Day. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Karen Price
5.0 out of 5 stars She had a hard but pleasant life!
I saw Anita O'Day perform several times in my younger days, especially with Gene Krupa. She was natural for what she did.
Roger B.
Published 10 months ago by Roger B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Won many Awards, Great Documentary
When this documentary came out, it was highly praised. Anita was in her seventies and still on a roll. Lots of pictures and videos of her performances. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Dr Kay
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent telling of a superb singer's story
The telling of Anita O'Day's story is a poignant tale of the ins and outs and ups and downs of one who would choose the life of an entertainer. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Milton A. Dugger Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Anita O'Day- The Life of a Jazz Singer
The documentary was well done. I enjoyed both the in-depth look at one of the greatest jazz singers ever, and of course I enjoyed the music.The quality of the disc was excellent.
Published 21 months ago by Gail Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
When it comes to Jazz singers, everybody can name the big 3: Billie,Ella and Sarah.

But apparently only connoisseurs know Anita O'Day - sarcastic, hip, white Jazz chick... Read more
Published on August 17, 2012 by Sasha
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story told honestly and openly
I've always tagged Anita as the Jezebel of Jazz & Drummer's Vocalist, and rank her neat the top of my personal short list of vocalists. Read more
Published on April 29, 2012 by Mike Tarrani
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, Honest, and Entertaining
~ This 2-disc set has everything I look for in a documentary. It is informative, honest, and entertaining. Read more
Published on March 4, 2012 by D.R.L.
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