Day By Day

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Ella in Hollywood

I nearly always am at a loss as to how to answer a question that begins with the words "What is your favorite...". My tastes are too varied, my enthusiasms too transitory, and my understanding of how the world works too complex and uncertain to provide easy answers. One exception to the rule, however, is the category of female vocalist. There I have long had only one favorite -- Ella Fitzgerald. Oh sure, in my youth there was Eileen Farrell, and then for a while it was Nancy Wilson, and I spent a few months in the thrall of Kiri Te Kanawa after hearing a live performance in Philly, and briefly I was blown away when I first heard a very young Jane Monheit perform "Honeysuckle Rose", but I always come back to Ella. She is the bedrock.

For those who share my passion for all things Ella, there is great news. Verve has just released a four CD set, "Twelve Nights in Hollywood" consisting of 76 recordings of Ella performing at the Crescendo, a LA jazz club back in 1960-61. These are not low-quality bootlegs; they are mastered from the original tapes produced by Norman Granz!!! Here is how the NYT describes them:
They capture the singer in her peak years, and at top form: more relaxed, swinging and adventurous, across a wider span of rhythms and moods, than on the dozens of other albums that hit the bins in her lifetime.
Definitely worth checking out.

Read the Times review here.

a sample from the album.