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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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ELLA’

Introducing Ella Fitzgerald

3 Volume Set -

Naxos Jazz Legends 8.103009

 

 

 

Volume 1 "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" – 18 Original Recordings 1936-1941

Volume 2 "It’s The Way That You Do It" – 20 Original Recordings 1936-1939

Volume 3 "Oh! Lady Be Good" – 19 Original recordings 1945-1952

Volume 1

1

A-Tisket, A-Tasket

10

Baby Won’t You Please Come Home

2

You Showed Me The Way

11

Cryin’ Mood

3

My Melancholy Baby

12

The Darktown Strutter’s Ball

4

Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen

13

Goodnight, My Love

5

Saving Myself For You

14

The Muffin Man

6

Pack Up Your Sins And Go To The Devil

15

If Dreams Come True

7

My Wubba Dolly

16

You’re Gonna Lose Your Gal

8

I’m The Lonesomest Gal In Town

17

If You Ever Change Your Mind

9

MacPherson Is Rehearsin’

18

Undecided

Volume 2

1

I Found My Yellow Basket

11

I’m Just A Jitterbug

2

Organ Grinder’s Swing

12

Rock It For Me

3

My Last Affair

13

The Dipsy Doodle

4

All Or Nothing At All

14

I Let A Tear Fall In The River

5

It’s My Turn Now

15

Chew Chew Chew Chew

6

Crying My Heart Out For You

16

Don’t Worry ’Bout Me

7

A Little Bit Later On

17

Ella

8

You Have To Swing It (Mr. Paganini)

18

Wacky Dust

9

Everybody Step

19

Coochi-Coochi-Coo

10

I Got A Guy

20

’Taint What You Do

Volume 3

1

Oh! Lady Be Good

11

Looking For A Boy

2

It’s Only A Paper Moon

12

I’ve Got A Crush On You

3

Flying Home

13

How Long Has This Been Going On?

4

I Didn’t Mean A Word I Said

14

Maybe

5

I’m Just A Lucky So And So

15

Soon

6

How High The Moon

16

Smooth Sailing

7

Basin Street Blues

17

Rough Riding

8

Someone To Watch Over Me

18

You’ll Have To Swing It

9

My One And Only

19

Air Mail Special

10

But Not For Me

   

As there is only three years difference between the first two volumes they can be dealt with together, especially as twenty-two of the thirty-eight tracks feature Ella Fitzgerald with the Chick Webb Orchestra. Another nine feature her with the Savoy Eight – a small group also made up of musicians from the Chick Webb Orchestra.

Ella joined Chick Webb in 1935 and within a few months they produced a hit record ‘A-Tisket, A-Tasket’ and for the next few years the partnership thrived until Webb’s untimely death in 1939. Ella ran the band for the next two years prior to embarking on a highly successful solo career. The spell with Webb witnessed rapid maturity in both Ella’s voice and interpretation. On these CDs there are some early classics such as ‘My Melancholy Baby, ‘Undecided,’ ‘All Or Nothing At All’ and ‘Don’t Worry ’Bout Me.’ Unfortunately, the collection also includes a certain amount of ‘novelty’ material that I can’t see having much appeal today. Throughout the two albums most of the arrangements are well put together and the musicianship is of the highest standard.

All nineteen tracks on Volume 3 are from Ella’s years with Decca Records and there is quite a diverse selection of material. For sheer artistry and presentation one need look no further than tracks 8-15 featuring Ella singing with only Ellis Larkins accompanying her on piano. All these selections were composed by the Gershwins. One of the great things about her performances over the years was that she always gave her best whether she was with a big band or small group. Her renowned ‘scat’ singing was always well received by audiences world-wide and this collection contains three ‘good old pot-boilers’ – ‘Flying Home,’ ‘How High The Moon’ and ‘Air Mail Special.’ Together with the other ‘scat’ tracks on the album we find Ella making more quotes than Errol Garner did in his whole career. The accompanying bands here are Vic Schoen and His Orchestra and Ray Brown and His Orchestra with the Ray Charles Singers.

As Ella’s music from the Decca years was not released until relatively late the third CD may well fill a gap in some record collections however, overall it is difficult to be enthusiastic about Volumes 1 & 2 as most of the material has been featured on so many compilations.

Jack Ashby



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