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First Lady of Song
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
This three-CD compilation of Ella Fitzgerald's years with Verve covers the period from 1954 to 1966, with a single throwback to a 1949 Jazz at the Philharmonic concert for a jam session version of "Perdido" with Charlie Pa... more »
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This three-CD compilation of Ella Fitzgerald's years with Verve covers the period from 1954 to 1966, with a single throwback to a 1949 Jazz at the Philharmonic concert for a jam session version of "Perdido" with Charlie Parker. The settings range from the almost spartan (intimate, beautiful versions of "Angel Eyes," with guitarist Barney Kessel, and "Lush Life," with pianist Oscar Peterson) to orchestras and big bands, while the material ranges from classic standards to bop tunes like "A Night in Tunisia" to the Lennon-McCartney "Can't Buy Me Love." What ties it all together, of course, is Fitzgerald's singular talent, her ability to find the potential in her material and expand it with her unique vocal abilities. This set is a tribute to producer Norman Granz as well, for he consistently worked to involve Fitzgerald in the fruitful collaborations that enliven this set. There are meetings with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie, as well as excerpts from the Songbook recordings and a number of live performances. --Stuart Broomer
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Member CD Reviews
Kevin G. (kkg-ct) from NEW FAIRFIELD, CT
Reviewed on 1/23/2015...
If you were in doubt as to what defines the purest Jazz female vocalist, look no further. A saucy set that convinced me that all hold music should be converted to Miss Ella because no one would care how long it took. The consistency of the perfect sound is truly remarkable. The verve of truly live performance with stunning tonal range and inflection.
Why dissect it? just lay back and groove....
If you only get one Ella boxed set...
loungelizard7 | 08/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ella Fitzgerald was simply the best. No two ways about it; that's the best way to describe her. And this boxed set showcases nothing but her very best recordings, pulled from the best years of her career at the Verve Jazz label. Starting in 1949 and going through the late '60s, there are three CDs and nearly twenty years of pure perfection to enjoy here. All the ones you've always heard about are here. Her heartbreaking "Angel Eyes," "April in Paris" with Count Basie and His Orchestra, and the untouchable recording of "Summertime" with Louis Armstrong. You can't listen to that one and not think, "Wow." Satchmo and Lady Time do one of the greatest duets in jazz with "Can't We Be Friends." Her "Lady Be Good" is included, with the brassy classic "After You've Gone." The two best tracks from her concert set with Duke Ellington at the Cote d'Azur, Jobim's popping "Jazz Samba" and Duke's rowdy "It Don't Mean a Thing," are present also; listen to how saxophone-like she sounds in her scat session on "Samba," and how she wails like one of the trumpets and becomes one of the band on "Don't Mean a Thing." "Let it Snow" represents her 'Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas," one Christmas CD every jazz fan should own; and yes, the legendary live Berlin version of "Mack the Knife," where Ella forgets the words halfway through and goes through a mean scat before launching into her crowd-pleasing Louis Armstrong impression, as well as the unbelievable scatting on the track that followed it, "How High the Moon," which sealed that song into Ella's repetoire along with "Mack."Good helpings of Ella's 'Great American Songbook' series are here. Her treatment of Cole Porter's "Too Darn Hot" matched with that great arrangement is jazz perfection. From her kingly Duke Ellington Songbook album, "Just a Lucky So and So" is one of Ella's best, bluesy and soulful, with letter-perfect solos by Duke and the marvelous Johnny Hodges. She has great fun on "Get Happy," and the beautiful arrangement of Arlen's "Heart and Soul" (you know, the song from 'Big'), with its heavenly waterfall of strings in the intro, gives Ella just what she needs to make this one a keeper. Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies" is Ella at her finest, swinging free and easy, as the song starts off light and builds to a screaming climax.Along with the famous ones, this set is also notable for so many great Ella recordings that cannot be found on CD elsewhere. This includes the stomping eight-minute-plus Jazz at the Philharmonic All-Stars version of "Perdido," with Roy Eldridge, Charlie Parker, and a bandful of greats backing Ella, a gorgeous live "Lullaby of Birdland," a Latin cover of "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" from the 1950s, the breezy "Swingin' Shepherd Blues," and Ella's superb "Don't Be That Way." Other not-so-well-known treats are a smooth, poetic "Night in Tunisia" that rivals Dizzy's wild original; Ella blowing every other version of "Black Coffee" out of the water; sugar-rush scatting on "Air-Mail Special"; the blues with Wild Bill Davis on organ with "Hear Me Talkin' to Ya"; and a seductive and swinging "Hernando's Hideaway," with lyrics set to the tune of the popular tango melody. Ella's "Makin' Whoopee" is, I guarantee you, one of the funniest songs you'll ever hear. It goes on and on, drawing bigger laughs with each verse, and Ella sings it with a wink and milks it for every laugh, especially that last verse! Perhaps the best, and most sadly little-known, recording here is Ella wailing through a bold, brassy arrangement of "Can't Buy Me Love." While Ella's reading here is nowhere near the golden treatment she gave it on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' in 1964, the arrangement never fails to stun, and is still one of the best jazz arrangements I've ever heard.There will never be another Ella. Buy this set, and see just why."
Michael J. Muller | Queensbury, New York USA | 02/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Your rating system does not have enough stars available to rate this collection. The sound of Ella's voice, the music selected to make this compilation and the engineering that has re-mastered her earliest recordings is just simply ten stars!"