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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Remembering Ella

March 1, 1955, Newcastle’s City Hall was barely half full. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Ella Fitzgerald I only knew from a pop hit from a few years back. My Happiness. Oscar Peterson, I’d read about in the Melody Maker.  Bought the cheapest seat which, turned out to be the best seat in the house! I was sitting on stage within almost touching distance of the artists.
Oscar came on and played and suddenly, Teddy Wilson, Earl Hines were no longer my heroes – even Tatum looked vulnerable. A fantastic first set with Sammy Stokes and Tony Kinsey helping Oscar on his way into Newcastle Jazz folklore. I said to my mate, “What could possibly follow that?”
Then along came Ella!
Don Abney had replaced Oscar at the piano and Ella swung into That Old Black Magic. This was it! I knew then, in my teenage years, I was never going to hear anything better. I probably didn’t but, if I did, it would be by someone inspired by Ella.
62 years later, that concert will forever remain the one I remember most and there have been a few!
Ella returned to the City Hall many times as part of the various JATP packages and, of course, she was magnificent but, the magic was never quite like that first time (it never is!).
The records were another thing – magnificent is an understatement! The songbooks: Arlen; Kern; Berlin; Rodgers and Hart; Ellington and Gershwin laid down the rulebook for aspirants but, great as these albums were, for me, the definitive one was the 10” duet album of Gershwin songs she made with Ellis Larkins. No orchestra, no Nelson Riddle etc. arrangements. Just a girl and a piano – this was, maybe still is, the template!
Ella, like Frank, kept the pack at bay!
Lance.
PS: After that, her City Hall concerts were never less than full!

3 comments :

Liz said...

I saw Ella when I was about 16. My dad took me to Leeds Odeon for her JATP concert. We queued in the pouring rain. It was my first real introduction to Jazz, even though my dad had played it on his guitar since my earliest recollections. I was hooked! her voice was God given. All my life she has been my number one female performer. Her sweet voice never dimmed with age, nobody can scat like Ella...RIP dear lady,you shared with the world a talent which will never be bettered.

Miles said...

I was there Lance and I still have the programme, I don't remember seeing you.
Miles

Lance said...

I too have the programme which I've just added a page from. No you wouldn't recognise me as I was much younger. However, if you have a good memory, I was sitting in a front row seat behind Oscar and Ella on the left of the stage (my right). Over the years, I've remembered every moment of that concert. Ironically, on the Saturday of that same week I'd attended a Mick Mulligan concert and the City Hall was packed!

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