On the list of all-time great female jazz vocalists, you’ve got legends like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. Hovering somewhere just below them, you’ll invariably encounter the name Anita O’Day. It’s not a name familiar to the garden-variety music listener. But to those in the know, it speaks volumes. Anita O’Day: pioneer, innovator, icon. O’Day is noted as much for her inimitable vocal style as for the sheer fact that she walked the walk as well as talked the talk.
Last Sunday’s broadcast of the 81st annual Academy Awards was a triumph in at least one way: The ratings didn’t completely suck. On average, they were up (33.57 million viewers) from last year’s record low (32.01 million). And at their peak (the telecast’s first half hour) they were rather impressive (37.70 million viewers). So how was the show? From where I was sitting, 2009’s much-touted “revamp” was a class act and a good foundation on which future Oscar shows can grow.