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Ella in Rome: Birthday Concert
Ella Fitzgerald
Ella in Rome: Birthday Concert
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1

This live recording captures an exceptional performance from 1958, with a broad selection of standards that digs into the Songbooks that Ella Fitzgerald was then immersed in. Duke Ellington is prominent in the repertoire, ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Ella Fitzgerald
Title: Ella in Rome: Birthday Concert
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Polygram Records
Original Release Date: 4/18/1988
Re-Release Date: 10/25/1990
Album Type: Live
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
Styles: Swing Jazz, Traditional Jazz & Ragtime, Vocal Jazz, Oldies, Vocal Pop, Classic Vocalists, Traditional Vocal Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 042283545427, 042283545410, 042283545441

Synopsis essential recording
This live recording captures an exceptional performance from 1958, with a broad selection of standards that digs into the Songbooks that Ella Fitzgerald was then immersed in. Duke Ellington is prominent in the repertoire, with versions of "Sophisticated Lady" and "Caravan," as well as the lesser-known "Just Squeeze Me." There are nods as well to George and Ira Gershwin, with "A Foggy Day" and "I Loves You, Porgy," and Cole Porter, with Fitzgerald soaring on "Just One of Those Things" and "It's All Right with Me." The accompaniment is both perfectly supportive and unobtrusive, with Ella's working trio of Lou Levy on piano, Max Bennett on bass, and Gus Johnson on drums supplying just what's needed on ballads and up-tempo swing tunes alike. The birthday party ends with Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, and Herb Ellis joining Fitzgerald and Johnson for a high-spirited "Stompin' at the Savoy." --Stuart Broomer

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CD Reviews

Don't You Believe 'Em, THIS Is Ella's BEST Live CD
Peter | East of Los Angeles | 05/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I can't believe the negative comments by the naysayers in this review, what do these reviewers have---cotton in their ears?? This is, quite simply, Ella's BEST live recording....yes, even BETTER than her legendary Berlin concert in '60, released as "Ella in Berlin: Mack the Knife". In contrast to that overrated recording, Ella sounds invigorated and fresh here. The "Mack the Knife" concert is often touted and overblown only because of Ella's electrifying improvisational performance of the title song. Yes, that was an ingenious moment where she made up the words as she sang along, never skipping a beat. Here on the Birthday Concert CD, there is no one song that stands out, rather almost the entire set blends seamlessly into one cohesive concert and performance. If there is a standout, Ella truly brings down the house in her tender rendering of the two ballads, "I Love You Porgy" and "These Foolish Things". I dare any listener not to be moved or touched in the slightest way after these two performances. Her take of "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" is hilarious as she imitates Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong and Rose Murphy in the same song. The ballads are what makes this CD a must buy. Her "Angel Eyes" almost makes you forget Sinatra's version, and she's backed by a first-rate trio.Also, when are people gonna believe that Ella was born in 1917, NOT 1918 as records often mislead the public to think. It's only a year's difference, but the lady was born in 1917. So when you read the liner notes from this CD, she was actually 41 that day, not 40 as they would like you to believe."
Life begins at forty !!!
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 02/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ella Fitzgerald performed live in Rome on what was actually her 41st birthday and this CD beautifully recreates the excitement and joy of her performance. The sound is very good and Ella's vocal range by 1958 had matured into a deeper and even more sensual sound than ever before. This live concert also allows us to hear audience responses to Ella as she sang; and it is a gift to hear Ella's strong rapport with her audience.

The CD begins with the happiest rendition of "St. Louis Blues" I've ever heard. Ella sings, scats and romps through this number which boasts an excellent musical arrangement. "These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You)" follows the opening number; and Ella's voice imparts a special intimacy as she performs this romantic ballad. Ella does an excellent job with the melancholy "Angel Eyes" as well; the percussion arrangement with the piano played by Lou Levy enhances the haunting beauty of "Angel Eyes."

Ella delivers a rousing rendition of "That Old Black Magic" written by the incomparable Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. Ella sings of someone she loves so much that her head spins with the passion she feels for her beloved. "Just One Of Those Things," written by Cole Porter, offers Ella the chance to sing a rarely performed opening verse. Watch out after that verse, though--Ella dives straight into this number to give it a passionate feel that few singers ever could. "I Loves You Porgy" sports a beautiful arrangement as Ella delivers this with great sensitivity.

The first part of Ella's concert ends with a sublime jazz flavored rendition of "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" by Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh. This remarkable number features Ella doing impressions of Rose Murphy's "Chi Chi" style and Ella works in a reference to Elvis, too! The best impression on this track, however, is Ella's impression of Louis Armstrong; and the audience goes wild when Ella does this so unexpectedly!

The second act of Ella's concert opens with "When You're Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You)" written by Mark Fisher, Joe Goodwin and Larry Shay. The jazz arrangement stuns you with its potency and leaves you wanting more. You do get more, too: Ella performs "A Foggy Day" by George and Ira Gershwin; The Lady Is A Tramp" by Rodgers and Hart and "Sophisticated Lady," too.

The finale is guaranteed to blow you away. The Oscar Peterson Trio takes over to accompany Ella on a whopping, joyful rendition of "Stompin' At The Savoy." "Stompin' At The Savoy" begins rather traditionally but Ella and The Oscar Peterson Trio jam hard and strong. Listen for Oscar's piano incredible playing; and Ella scats amazingly well! This closes the CD on a strong note and the ecstatic audience reaction proves it.

The liner notes include the song credits and Phil Schaap contributes a fine essay about Ella as well. Congratulations to the Amazon reviewer who correctly notes that Ella turned 41, not 40, on the day of this concert. A simple Internet search proves it.

I could say that when they made Ella they broke the mold. The truth, however, is that there could never have been a mold good enough to make Ella. She gave us her best throughout her entire career; and her contributions to the arts will always deserve special merit and gratitude from the entire world over and over again. Ella fans will thrill to this CD and people who enjoy classic pop vocals performed with quality jazz arrangements will cheer as they listen to this album. If you like this album I recommend other Ella CDs including The Complete Ella in Berlin: Mack the Knife and The Stockholm Concert, 1966.
Swinging Angel's Thrilling Rome Concert (4.5 stars)
Antonio Robert | Slovakia, Europe | 01/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ella Fitzgerald's live recording, recorded in the Italian capital on her 41st birthday and for the first time published in 1988 -- yes, after 30 years -- is often overlooked, probably due to its late appearance in the catalogue, but, in fact, sets a standard for what a live jazz vocal album should sound like.At 41, Ella's incomparable voice is pristine in quality (as showcased, for instance, on classic "Sophisticated Lady"), full of swinging power ("St. Louis Blues", "That Old Black Magic"), touchingly intimate ("These Foolish Things") and hailing the greats like Frankie and Elvis.But if there's something for which to buy this (the previously mentioned tracks are more than enough), it's her imitation of long-time pal Louis "Pops" Armstrong in "Can't Give You Anything" -- you must hear to believe.The trio Levy-Bennett-Johnson do a good job, leaving Ella's voice up in front. And the closer "Stompin' at the Savoy" welcomes the great Oscar Peterson on stage and lets Ella once again change the lyric and quip "Oscar -- we're through" -- a hint of the great mood there was in Rome back in 1958. Introductions by Verve label 'father' Norman Granz are also a good thing to be included and show the atmosphere.To compare, listen to "I Loves You Porgy" here and on the "Best of Ella and Louis" -- the two versions are rather different.The only song this set would do without quite well is probably Duke Ellington's "Caravan", lacking anything memorable.However, if you would like to own just one CD of the great voice belonging to the Lady Named Ella, with "Live in Rome" you can't go wrong."