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Ella Fitzgerald | Features



 
 
 
 

ELLA FITZGERALD

SENSATIONAL ASSEMBLAGE OF STARS PRAISE THE BELOVED ELLA FITZGERALD
‘WE ALL LOVE ELLA: CELEBRATING THE FIRST LADY OF SONG’

Ella FitzgeraldA sensational assemblage of stars honors the incomparable songstress Ella Fitzgerald on the Phil Ramone-produced ‘We All Love Ella: Celebrating The First Lady Of Song’. These stars’ love of Ella shines through on their musical performances, but they also cite Ella’s artistry and music as moving and influential to their own careers.

You can almost hear Natalie Cole smile as she sings Ella’s famous hit “A Tisket A Tasket.” This was the first jazz song Cole ever learned and she practiced it so she would sound exactly like Ella. “When I was seven, I was singing like a 30 or 40 year old woman,” she laughs. k.d. lang was 20 when she bought her first Ella record and “studied it and studied it and studied it...from then I studied her as a musician.” lang’s sultry and subdued “Angel Eyes” is a beautiful tribute to Ella’s original. Legendary producer Phil Ramone says, “There is something magical about doing the work of Ella Fitzgerald that gives you a tremendous painting to start with.” Diana Krall calls Fitzgerald “the greatest improviser, jazz scat singer…a completely natural and amazing woman.” She offers a tender rendition of “Dream a Little Dream” with celebrated pianist Hank Jones for the record. Dianne Reeves highlights Ella’s sunny side, saying, “The biggest influence she had on me was there was so much joy in her singing. She absolutely loved singing and you could feel it,” a mood that’s apparent on Reeves version of “Oh, Lady Be Good.”

Breakout singer Ledesi said Ella made “Blues in the Night” “seem so easy.” Although she discovered it was harder than she thought, she delivers a remarkable performance. In Ella Fitzgerald’s lifetime, she won 13 GRAMMY® awards and sold over 40 million albums. Her catalog continues to be as popular as ever and her iconic stature is undiminished. Fitzgerald would have turned 90 on April 25, 2007.

We All Love Ella: A Celebration of the First Lady of Song' is produced by hitmaker Phil Ramone and filled with passionate performances of classics made famous by Ella and sung by world-renowned singers and break-out stars Michael Bublé, Natalie Cole, Etta James, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Diana Krall, k.d. lang, Queen Latifah, Ledesi, Dianne Reeves, Linda Ronstadt and Lizz Wright.

Ella FitzgeraldElla Fitzgerald (1917-96) was, along with Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday, one of the most important vocalists to emerge from the big-band era. Her style is marked by a sunny outlook, a girlish innocence, and a virtuoso command of her voice.

Fitzgerald was born out of wedlock in Newport News, Virginia, to a laundress mother and a father who disappeared when she was three years old. Along with her mother and her mother’s new boyfriend who functioned as a stepfather, she soon moved to Yonkers, New York, where she began her schooling. Around the third grade she started dancing, a pursuit that became almost an obsession. In 1932, when she was fifteen, her mother died suddenly of a heart attack. Her stepfather treated her badly, but an aunt took the teenager to live with her in Harlem. This arrangement did not last long; Fitzgerald ran away in 1934 to live on the streets.

Late that year she won a talent contest at the Apollo theater; she had entered as a dancer, but nervousness caused her to sing instead. Several months later she joined drummer Chick Webb’s big band, where she mostly sang novelties like "Vote for Mr. Rhythm". In 1938 she recorded "A-Tisket, A-Tasket", her own adaptation of a turn-of-the-century nursery rhyme, which took the country by storm and eventually sold a million copies. When Webb died in 1939 the band’s management installed Fitzgerald as leader.

In 1942 the band broke up and Fitzgerald became a single act, touring with various other popular names of the day. She also became interested in scat singing and the newly emerging style known as bebop, and in 1945 she recorded a landmark version of "Flying Home." Several tours with the Dizzy Gillespie band also contributed to her assimilation of the bebop style.

Ella FitzgeraldIn the late 1940s Fitzgerald began to tour with the Jazz at the Philharmonic troupe, working with such leading musicians as saxophonist Lester Young, trumpeter Roy Eldridge, pianist Oscar Peterson, and bassist Ray Brown, to whom she was married for four years. JATP impresario Norman Granz became increasingly influential in her career, and in 1953 he became her manager.

Three years after that he became her record producer as well, recording her on his own Verve label. He wasted little time in having Fitzgerald record a double album of Cole Porter songs. Fitzgerald made many wonderful albums for Verve in the following decade, but the six songbooks occupy a special place in her discography. They were instrumental in expanding Fitzgerald’s appeal beyond that of a "jazz singer" and creating a demand for her in venues not usually open to jazz artists.

For die-hard jazz fans, though, the well-polished jewels of the songbook series lack the raw energy of Fitzgerald’s live performances. Happily, Granz released several landmark concert albums by her as well. especially exciting was a 1960 Berlin concert, which featured an electrifying performance of an impromptu take on "Mack the Knife," which became a Top 30 single. Fitzgerald usually performed with a trio or quartet, but there were also appearances with larger groups, such as the Duke Ellington and Count Basie orchestras.

By the 1960s Fitzgerald had become wealthy enough to retire, but the love of performing drove her on — she appeared regularly until just a couple of years before her death in 1996. Sidemen came and went, but except when health problems intervened she performed as much as humanly possible, sometimes singing concerts in two different cities in one day.

Phil Bailey

Watch We All Love Ella 'Behind The Scenes'
Various Artists - We All Love Ella
01. A Tisket A Tasket - Natalie Cole
02. Lullaby of Birdland - Chaka Khan
03. The Lady is a Tramp - Queen Latifah
04. Dream a Little Dream of Me - Diana Krall & Hank Jones
05. Mr. Paganini - Natalie Cole & Chaka Khan
06. Oh, Lady Be Good - Dianne Reeves
07. Reaching for the Moon - Lizz Wright
08. Blues in the Night - Ledisi
09. Miss Otis Regrets - Linda Ronstadt
10. Someone to Watch Over Me - Gladys Knight
11. Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me - Etta James
12. Angel Eyes - k.d. lang
13. Too Close for Comfort - Michael Bublé
14. You Are The Sunshine In My Life - Ella Fitzgerald & Stevie Wonder
15. Airmail Special - Nikki Yanofsky
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Ella Fitzgerald - Celebrating the First Lady of Song

 
 
 
 
 
 
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