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August 11, 2011

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Jerri Carmo

Marc - the footage is from the DVD "The Life of a Jazz Singer." If I remember correctly this is an outtake interview that appears on the bonus disc.

Thanks for following up with Russ Garcia. Hope to catch his concert when he is in San Francisco, so please keep us posted.

Jeff Austin

One of Anita's less lovely qualities, as noted by Joe Lang, was mistreating the musicians she worked with. In later years, she had the sweet-natured Gordon Brisker on hand as music director and to do damage control, but it was not a pretty sight.

Once, at Fat Tuesday's in the late '80s, she had a pick-up trio with a piano player who was really, really good, by the name of Biff Hannan (sp?). I recall his name, since I went up between sets and asked him -- Anita didn't introduce the band, which was kind of lousy form, considering how hard they were working.

One of them must have said something, because she made very ceremonious intros in the second set, and was fawning over Hannan and having fun with his first name. Then, ending one song, she shouted at him "Seven Chords!" He looked like a deer in the headlights, and played an arpeggiated 7th chord. So, she berated him until he came up with a seven-chord progression that made her happy. For someone who counted herself as being "one of the guys," it wasn't very appealing (or musician-like) behavior.

Charlie Cochran, whom Anita mentions in the video clip, is a marvelous singer-pianist, very much still with us, and one of the nicest people who ever drew breath. (How kind of Anita, who may have tasted the cooking sherry herself once or twice, to call him "a big-time-boozer.) He has wonderful stories about her -- one of the best revolves around taking her to see, of all things, "The Sound Of Music" when it was on Broadway. It was, well... Charlie's on Facebook, Marc. I'll bet you'd enjoy talking with him.

For all of Anita's railing against Norman Granz, the body of work that she did on Verve is really in a class by itself. When I was a teenager, my first LP of hers was a cut-out of "Waiter, Make Mine Blues" with spectacular Russ Garcia arrangements. I loved it then, and even more now.

Bruce Armstrong

I was lucky enough to experience Anita at her best back in the early 80s when I was in the house band at the Flamingo Hilton hotel in Las Vegas. Anita was finishing up an engagement in the lounge at the Sahara hotel, and after our last show several of us went down to catch her last set. She sounded great with the trio: Billy Tragesser (piano) and Bill Plavan (bass)--both excellent local musicians--and of course, John Poole on drums. Within minutes after her set ended Anita and John were outside the lounge and sitting at the bar with all of us. Since she had known several of the musicians I was with it was like a reunion for Anita. She told stories about her recent tour in Japan, and reminisced with some of the guys about the gigs they had played together. She was sitting right next to me the whole time, and I really felt like I was in the presence of “jazz royalty!” She looked great, she was in great spirits, and she made a point of speaking to me like we were old friends. Such charisma! It is a night I will never forget.

Ray Accardi

As well as a wonderful voice had a great sensuality to interpret the songs,i love Anita

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  • Marc Myers writes frequently on music and the arts for the Wall Street Journal. He is author of "Why Jazz Happened" (University of California Press). In 2012, JazzWax was named the Jazz Journalists Association's "Blog of the Year."

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