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Bebop Spoken There

Immanuel Wilkins: "I'm against the notion of telling a story through lyrics. Dialogue or language can take away from the musical meaning. Words can do a disservice." - (The Hot House Jazz Guide January 19, 2021)

The Things They Say!

Hudson Music: Lance's "Bebop Spoken Here" is one of the heaviest and most influential jazz blogs in the UK.

Rupert Burley (Dynamic Agency): "BSH just goes from strength to strength".

Thursday January 21

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HONOR HORNSBY & FRANK GRIFFITH.

Postage

12,377 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 96 of them this year alone and, so far, 96 this month (Jan. 20).

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Album review: Ella Fitzgerald - ELLA: The Lost Berlin Tapes

Ella Fitzgerald (vocals); Paul Smith (piano); Wilfred
Middlebrooks (bass); Stan Levey (drums)

Two years previous (1960), Ella had played Berlin and famously forgot the words to Mack the Knife. The result was a best-selling album! Two years later she remembered the words, although she did keep the previously improvised line but didn't know which city she was in. When you're on the road I guess one place is the same as the next - Berlin today, Newcastle tomorrow. This may well have been the case as she did play Newcastle's City Hall on that tour as part of JATP.

I was there and I don't recall her mistaking Newcastle for Gateshead (or vice versa as so often happened later when big names played Sage Gateshead). Obviously Newcastle made a more lasting impression on her than Berlin did.

Ella also made a lasting impression on me 58 years ago, and, if I close my eyes, I'm still sitting there in awe of what I'm hearing perched on the edge of seat F23 (poetic licence!)

Although I didn't take notes, I'm fairly sure that at least some of the numbers she sang then would be among these classics taken from a newly discovered tape found in Herr Granz's Verve bunker.

As always, the First Lady gives each number her own individual take. A typical example being the gender reversed Matt Monro hit, My Kind of Boy in which she credits the boy with the combined attributes of Sinatra, Eckstine, Belafonte, Como, Cole and Basie - no wonder he was her kind of boy!

Sixteen numbers, well actually seventeen as Hallelujah, I Love Him So was so good she sang it twice, that had me as hooked now as I'd been way back then. Even Summertime and Cry me a River don't spoil the mood - it's as if I'm hearing them for the first time!

On piano, Paul Smith proved to be the ideal accompanist even though in the March 1962 edition of Jazz Journal Sinclair Traill wasn't impressed. Stan Levey's drum solo on Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie gave him the contender status he didn't achieve as a fighter whilst Middlebrooks was the ideal bassist - he had to be - Ella's ex-husband was Ray Brown!

One number I distinctly recall from the City Hall was Mr. Paganini. It brought the house down then and it does just that here.

Mack the Knife, naturally, also had both audiences on their feet. Even Louis and Bobby Darin never quite hit this groove. The final Wee Baby Blues had Ella in the unfamiliar role of blues singer. Like Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan Ella was never an out and out blues mama but she has a fair crack at it here.

The other tracks are Cheek to Cheek; I Won't Dance; Someone to Watch Over Me; Jersey Bounce; Angel Eyes; Taking a Chance on Love; C'est Magnifique & Good Morning Heartache.

If, inexplicably, you haven't any Ella in your collection this is a good place to start. If you are well-stocked then I suggest you make room for one more. In the words of Bing Crosby "Man, woman or child ..." you know the rest and it's true, she is "The Greatest!"

Lance.

Available now on CD, vinyl etc.

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