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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Digital Download Review: Ella Fitzgerald - Ella @ Zardi's.

Ella Fitzgerald (vocal); Don Abney (piano); Vernon Alley (bass); Frank Capp (drums).
(Review by Lance).
It's been well recorded on Bebop Spoken Here the effect that hearing Ella Fitzgerald live, for the very first time, at Newcastle City Hall in March 1955 had on me and, although I heard her many more times over the ensuing years, great as they were, nothing ever topped that first impression and, I was convinced that nothing ever would.
Until today that is when I listened to Ella at Zardi's.
Just under a year after that magical night in Newcastle, Ella recorded this session at Zardi's - a Hollywood nightspot.
Norman Granz had taken over her representation and this was intended to be the initial album under his supervision. However, The first of the great Verve Songbook albums - Cole Porter - was released and quickly became so successful that other songbooks followed and Zardi's was filed away and forgotten.
Until now.
Now, I'm back at Newcastle City Hall, sitting within a few yards of Ella (I doubt if I could have afforded a table at Zardi's) and hearing her as I did then. Her voice had yet to become totally Granzified and there was still a trace of Harlem in her take on 21 of the GASbook's best.
As he was in Newcastle, Abney is the accompanist par excellence providing the lead-ins, feeding the chords and following Ella wherever she wandered. My one reservation being that he had little solo exposure of his own. This wasn't as noticeable at Newcastle as Oscar Peterson had had a set to himself before Ella but it would have been nice to hear more of Don.
Our local concert had Sammy Stokes and Tony Kinsey on bass and drums which, unfairly, drew some snide remarks from the British critics. I'm sure those 'pundits' would have had little to complain about at Zardi's.
Whether you were at City Hall, Zardi's or wish you'd been to either, the solution is here. Maybe it's nostalgia, but, for me, this is the definitive Ella. I'm 16 again!

It All Depends on You; Tenderly; Why Don't You do Right?; Cry me a River; In a Mellow Tone; Joe Williams' Blues; A Fine Romance; How High the Moon*: Gone With the Wind; Bernie's Tune; S'Wonderful; Glad to be Unhappy; Lullaby of Birdland; Tender Trap; And the Angels Sing; I  Can't Give You Anything But Love*; Little Boy; A-Tisket-Tasket*; My Heart Belongs to Daddy; Airmail Special; I've Got a Crush on You*.
* Ella also sang these numbers at City Hall.
Lance.
20. Airmail Special
21. I
ve Got A Crush On You

1 comment :

Liz said...

Aah Hollywood Boulevard at Vine...I stood in exactly that spot when I visited West Hollywood last Spring. I remember the moment. The Capital building towering just along the road, The Hollywood sign visible across the valley, I threw out my arms...I was ecstatic to be there. Yes I also saw the gorgeous Miss Fitz, 1953-ish at Leeds Odeon, queued in the pouring rain with my Dad, she brought a new kind of magic to my life, the first lady of Jazz!

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