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Classic of the Week

Roy Eldridge with the Gene Krupa Orchestra featuring Anita O'Day "Uptown" (1941-49) Columbia

June 09, 1994|BUDDY SEIGAL

Trumpeter Eldridge, drummer Krupa and singer O'Day number among the giants, so it's no surprise that the hot licks abound on these recordings--even if the material is more commercial pop/swing than real jazz.

Still, even if they did play their most important and enduring work elsewhere, it's nonetheless a pleasure to hear these three together, particularly the exchanges between O'Day and Eldridge as she exhorts him to "blow, man, blow!" and enthuses "root, and solid to boot!" (Note should be taken that such close work between a white female and a black male was in and of itself something of a watershed in '40s Amer ica.) Light-years ahead of his time and second only to Louis Armstrong in terms of pre-bop influence, Eldridge plays beautiful upper register solos that sing and sear (check out his especially lyrical rendition of "Rockin' Chair").

O'Day, meanwhile, gives glimpses of her true talent for scat singing with hip, restrained phrasing even on the corniest material. And Krupa, always incredibly powerful, thunders like a tommy gun throughout.

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