Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Voice Keep Swinging: Ella 100

I almost blew this one because the date nearly got past me, but I'm sneaking it in under the wire due to the fact that this lady is worth the accolades.
There isn't much more to say other than today would have been the 100th birthday of Ella Fitzgerald, widely considered one of the top ten American singers ever to live.
Surely one of the most swinging and elegantly expressive vocalists of any nation, she passed over 20 years ago but no one will ever forget what she did over a storied career spanning almost seven decades.
She started way back in the 1930s with drummer Chick Webb and assumed control of the band when he died at the end of that decade. After three years leading the orchestra she struck out on her own and immediately began to have hits and influence.
After a huge hit with a scat version of the Lionel Hampton classic Flying Home, her career really began to ascend in the 1950s, when she moved to Verve Records, a label essentially created for her by renowned impresario Norman Granz that went on to become one of the central Jazz imprints ever.
More hits followed, as did a reputation as one of, if not the, very best scat vocalists of all time. She recorded whole sets of Cole Porter and Duke Ellington standards in the Fifties that endure to this day as among the most revered ever created in Jazz.
Absolutely one of the most beloved and imitated of all singers in any discipline, Ella Fitzgerald set multiple standards for the interpretation of a song that will likely never be approached, no less equaled. Her instantly-identifiable voice will speak across the ages long after everyone any of us have ever known is gone from the Earth.
Like I said this one is a no-brainer and if I need to explain to you who Ella Fitzgerald is, you've probably got bigger problems in life than merely being out of the musical loop.
To commemorate this milestone centenary, let's fire up an unissued PAL DVD of a tight 33 minute performance of this first-ballot Hall-of-Fame vocal acrobat with the Tommy Flanagan trio, taped for Finnish TV way back in the Spring of 1965 and sourced from a crystalline 2009 rebroadcast in Europe. She tackles 11 tunes ranging from Jobim to The Beatles, all with suitably swingin' accompaniment.
Ella Fitzgerald
w/The Tommy Flanagan Trio
Helsinki, Finland

01 People
02 They Can't Take That Away from Me
03 And the Angels Sing
04 A Hard Day's Night
05 Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me
06 Mood Indigo
07 It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
08 The Boy from Ipanema
09 Angel Eyes
10 Hello, Dolly!
11 Smooth Sailing

Total: 33:15

Ella Fitzgerald - vocals
Tommy Flanagan - piano
Keter Betts -  bass
Gus Johnson - drums

B&W PAL DVD of a 2009 digital rebroadcast
I'll be back in just a few hours with a pretty ridiculous bit of Seventies Rock-n-Roll excess, but tonight let's not forget to honor Ella Fitzgerald -- a most deserving and inspiring woman who was born this day in 1917 and whose music and mystique continue to thrill tens of millions.--J.
4.25.1917 - 6.15.1996