Apr 25, 2014

Hawaii Wicky Wacky, Anita in Japan, Plus Sondheim Dipped In Jazz And A Luminous Topiary Secret Song!

The face says "wassup," the arms say "gun show," the picture says "Made in Hawaii." And so he is. It's Jason Mamoa. Yes, it's true, your favorite "Games Of Thrones" (and "Baywatch") actor was born in the Aloha state (along with several more Hollywood stars and a certain politician). Which is just a roundabout way of saying that Hawaii sure seems like a fun place (I've never been). It even sounds like fun.

Or at least it does in this terrific Lei-It-On-Me Cheerful Exclusive!, "Hawaii On Broadway," a somewhat misleading title since this swingin' compilation brings together stars from the pop music world and movies, too. 

It starts off with "Hula Lou!" by the Varsity Eight, and only gets better - and loonier - as it goes along, with Sophie Tucker singing "Makin' Wicky Wacky Down in Waikiki" (how can you resist?), Dorothy Lamour cooing "Queen Of The Hollywood Islands," and my personal favorite, George Lewis' "Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula." It's perfect for Spring (which you should enjoy, since it's short nowadays because of global warming) (trust me, you'll be frying in the summer's hot sun in no time). 

Since this is Anita Central The Cheerful Earfull, Springtime demands freshly squeezed and Cheerfully Exclusive! Anita. Ami'rite, as the kids say?

In 1976, the touring jazz market in the U.S. had all but dried up - especially for Anita. Though long clean of drugs, she was still fighting the "Jezebel of Jazz" label (first given to her when she was busted for pot decades previous). In fact, as early as 1970, she was seriously considering a return to waitressing.

Her longtime drummer John Poole decided to humor her, took her to a local pizza joint - then insisted she "sit in" with the piano player for a singer who "just happened to be missing" that night. She never thought about waitressing again.

Luckily, even though jazz booking honchos in the U.S. didn't want her, Japan all but begged, and she and John, along with a group of crack musicians, embarked on long, sold-out, wildly well-received tour, the result being several new CDs, including this one, a live engagement in Tokyo recorded over two nights in 1976. Get ready, because this isn't just for Anita completists. Yes, the recording quality is rough in the first few tracks, but if you stay with it, the quality improves (markedly). Better yet, you'll be hearing one of Anita's truly great live performances.

If you're Catholic, you've already celebrated Easter, if you're Jewish, you've enjoyed Passover, if you're Atheist, you've taken time to smell the roses - and sheesh, there were all kinds of roses to see during the last revival of Sondheim's "Follies" (its concluding sequences were practically drenched in them) (and to good hallucinatory effect).

Do you like Sondheim dipped in jazz? I do, and this is one of the best Sondheim jazz CDs I've heard in quite a while. Just ignore the dreary, somber cover art, hit play and bliss out with wonderful sets from the likes of Herbie Hancock, Nancy Wilson, The Holly Cole Trio and more.

Meet Miss Kitty O'Shea (formerly Miss Fried Foods, 1976!), the Secret Song File's BFF, who's waiting for just the right moment to distract a group of gentlemen at a boxing match. She's part of the fix, you see, as always (she's been at this work for years) (in the same red dress!). Some things never change. And some music groups sound as if they've time-tripped from the 80's.

Case in point is Kitty's favorite new CD from a group that's both luminous and larger than a shrub. They're from Utah, of all places, and first rose to fame by opening for "The Killers." It's bouncy, vaguely New Wave-ish and just right for Spring. Oh, and it was inspired by one band member's complete mental breakdown (but don't let that scare you away) (no, really).

It takes a lot more than kookiness to make me shiver.

Share your nutty thoughts in the comments, if ya' want!


Regularjoe said...

It's nice to see that Sondheim collection turn up on a blog like this. I bought it when it came out for the Holly Cole track alone and really fell in love with the whole album.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Hey, Regularjoe, If you're interested in more Sondheim jazz, click Trotter Trio in the labels list. You'll love them!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Terry Trotter Trio - Little Night Music is no longer available. Any chance of a re-up?

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

But of course. Gimmie a few...