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Although it was originally filed as a Gene Krupa album, the 1956 LP Drummer Man is centered on the chemistry between trumpeter Roy Eldridge and singer Anita O’Day. The session is something of a valedictory run for the three friends and collaborators, who had played together in Krupa’s band since 1941. You can see why Krupa wanted to pair O’Day and Eldridge. Her husky, pliable voice is the perfect counterpart to the stately, upright register of his trumpet. “Let Me Off Uptown” gives a sense of how the whole package fits together. The program is solidly rooted in swing, and the steady guidance of Krupa’s drums is unmistakable. He holds the orchestra like a bassinet cradles a baby. The album is a chance for the band to reignite the glories of the swing years, and burnish the old sound with lush engineering. It’s wonderful to hear the band fired up on “Drum Boogie,” “Leave Us Leap” and “After You’ve Gone,” but the real gem is “That’s What You Think,” undoubtedly one of the sexiest big band recordings of the ‘50s.


Born: October 18, 1919 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Few female singers matched the hard-swinging and equally hard-living Anita O'Day for sheer exuberance and talent in all areas of jazz vocals. Though three or four outshone her in pure quality of voice, her splendid improvising, wide dynamic tone, and innate sense of rhythm made her the most enjoyable singer of the age. O'Day's first appearances in a big band shattered the traditional image of a demure female vocalist by swinging just as hard as the other musicians on the bandstand, best heard on...
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Drummer Man, Anita O'Day
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