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Ella Fitzgerald

"The First Lady of Song," Ella Fitzgerald was arguably the finest female jazz singer of all time (although some may vote for Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday). Blessed with a beautiful voice and a wide range, Fitzgerald could outswing anyone, was a brilliant scat singer, and had near-perfect elocution; one could always understand the words she sang. The one fault was that, since she always sounded so happy to be singing, Fitzgerald did not always dig below the surface of the lyrics she interpreted and she even made a downbeat song such as "Love for Sale" sound joyous. However, when one evaluates her career on a whole, there is simply no one else in her class.

One could never guess from her singing that Ella Fitzgerald's early days were as grim as Billie Holiday's. Growing up in poverty, Fitzgerald was literally homeless for the year before she got her big break. In 1934, she appeared at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, winning an amateur contest by singing "Judy" in the style of her idol, Connee Boswell. After a short stint with Tiny Bradshaw, Fitzgerald was brought to the attention of Chick Webb by Benny Carter (who was in the audience at the Apollo). Webb, who was not impressed by the 17-year-old's appearance, was reluctantly persuaded to let her sing with his orchestra on a one-nighter. She went over well and soon the drummer recognized her commercial potential. Starting in 1935, Fitzgerald began recording with Webb's Orchestra, and by 1937 over half of the band's selections featured her voice. "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" became a huge hit in 1938 and "Undecided" soon followed. During this era, Fitzgerald was essentially a pop/swing singer who was best on ballads while her medium-tempo performances were generally juvenile novelties. She already had a beautiful voice but did not improvise or scat much; that would develop later.

On June 16, 1939, Chick Webb died. It was decided that Fitzgerald would front the orchestra even though she had little to do with the repertoire or hiring or firing the musicians. She retained her popularity and when she broke up the band in 1941 and went solo; it was not long before her Decca recordings contained more than their share of hits. She was teamed with the Ink Spots, Louis Jordan, and the Delta Rhythm Boys for some best-sellers, and in 1946 began working regularly for Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic. Granz became her manager although it would be nearly a decade before he could get her on his label. A major change occurred in Fitzgerald's singing around this period. She toured with Dizzy Gillespie's big band, adopted bop as part of her style, and started including exciting scat-filled romps in her set. Her recordings of "Lady Be Good," "How High the Moon," and "Flying Home" during 1945-1947 became popular and her stature as a major jazz singer rose as a result. For a time (December 10, 1947-August 28, 1953) she was married to bassist Ray Brown and used his trio as a backup group. Fitzgerald's series of duets with pianist Ellis Larkins in 1950 (a 1954 encore with Larkins was a successful follow-up) found her interpreting George Gershwin songs, predating her upcoming Songbooks series.

After appearing in the film Pete Kelly's Blues in 1955, Fitzgerald signed with Norman Granz's Verve label and over the next few years she would record extensive Songbooks of the music of Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Rodgers & Hart, Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, and Johnny Mercer. Although (with the exception of the Ellington sets) those were not her most jazz-oriented projects (Fitzgerald stuck mostly to the melody and was generally accompanied by string orchestras), the prestigious projects did a great deal to uplift her stature. At the peak of her powers around 1960, Fitzgerald's hilarious live version of "Mack the Knife" (in which she forgot the words and made up her own) from Ella in Berlin is a classic and virtually all of her Verve recordings are worth getting.

Fitzgerald's Capitol and Reprise recordings of 1967-1970 are not on the same level as she attempted to "update" her singing by including pop songs such as "Sunny" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," sounding quite silly in the process. But Fitzgerald's later years were saved by Norman Granz's decision to form a new label, Pablo. Starting with a Santa Monica Civic concert in 1972 that is climaxed by Fitzgerald's incredible version of "C Jam Blues" (in which she trades off with and "battles" five classic jazzmen), Fitzgerald was showcased in jazz settings throughout the 1970s with the likes of Count Basie, Oscar Peterson, and Joe Pass, among others. Her voice began to fade during this era and by the 1980s her decline due to age was quite noticeable. Troubles with her eyes and heart knocked her out of action for periods of time, although her increasingly rare appearances found Fitzgerald still retaining her sense of swing and joyful style. By 1994, Ella Fitzgerald was in retirement and she passed away two years later, but she remains a household name and scores of her recordings are easily available on CD. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Sings The George And Ira Gershwin Song Book

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
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Track List: The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
Disc 5
Disc 6
Disc 7
Disc 8
Disc 9
Disc 10
Disc 11
Disc 12
Disc 13
Disc 14
Disc 15
Disc 16

Comments

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Outstanding vocalist...W O W !
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I would love to hear some of Ella without Louis Armstrong
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Beautiful duet with the best artist in the world. Love it.
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MAGNIFIQUE !!!!!!!
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Late in her career we were amazed by her ability to capture a huge audience at the Hollywood Bowl. Someone yelled out we love you Ella and she said she loved us too. After too many additional tunes because the audience wouldn't let her leave the stage, finally someone came out to take the elder Ella who by then was becoming lame from her age and diapedesis off the stage. The audience was shocked at her performance that was so full of life and fun. A true American Artist of all time.
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How beautiful is That! You'll Never expierience such delightful Music as this. What an wonderful era to have lived amoungst such tasteful talent!!
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dragonlady60 8 8
ELLA...what a beautiful voice...!"!! " ! !
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MY BELOVED ELLA, SHE HAD MY MOTHER SINGING LIKE AROUND OUR HOUSE! SHE WAS GOOD AT IT!!!I MISS HER AN MISS ELLA WITH LOVE,A SONAND FAN������
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It's so great to hear an incredibly talented woman singing clearly and purely into the mike without all the idiotic over-product i o n of today's albums. No hyped orchestratio n , no digital effects, no layers of dubbing and reverb...jus t great talent, pure and simple.
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She was a blessing from an absolute gift from god ����
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auntroro81
I love this song the title reminds Me of my best friend who tragically died in a car accident, I truly believe that he is watching over Me from heaven! I miss him a lot, he is my guardian angel when we were kids, and growing up if anybody picked on Me he would protect them, I still miss him everyday! When I go to visit his grave I tell him that I love him!;)))
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The gratest.
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MAGNIFIQUE ! ! !
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Patiently
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She is a very talented person. I love her music.
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tinytot73054
TRULY ONE OF THE BEST!
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this was truly one of the greatest female singers. Could listen to her music all day.
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I am sad that Judy Garland died;(
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dave5962
This, I Didn't Know About You, is the best Ella Fitzgerald recording I've ever heard. Later, she became so polished, so effortless, that it began to be for me rather bland, without the depth of emotional expression present here, without the phrasing anchored in those emotions as it is here. Beautiful. Ive loved Ella since I first heard her, in 1959, but this recording is the best.
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She is one of the greats , lv At last !!! Listen too your children !!!!
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AWFUL YOU ARE HORRIBLE!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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As of now, the best singer ever of all time.
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dianeabcd
sarah vaughn
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Lovely. What a wonderful voice!
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mabeljenna
She is so much better than all of those trash pop stars!
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My dad and I do impersonatio n s of her and Louis. He's sounds just like Louis but I sound nothing like her(my sister does Billie holiday)
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WOW.
Nuff tapped.:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)
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Ladies and gentlemen, Ella Fitzgerald is the best voice of the 20th century. Just listen.
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pure is a good word for it
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JUST PURE! NO DISTRACTIONS - L O V E L Y ! ! !
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Lopaka!!!!- Agree!- The Best!!!-Alwa y s will be!
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cobban.barne t t
Ella's version of Night and Day is absolute perfection ... my favorite recording of all time :)
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nrivers160
I'm in my time machine and just landed in a little cafe/ louge on the south side hee hee I luv it hee hee
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KEJ EJIS U SJSI EUS. SISUBEI BBC KIDBUD IDIDJNSI EJS OH DC BDIDUMDOSNU S I IEBJBDJHSIG DNKISMKSHNSM S I N S C S GSNJDISMIDMH D K D J D J U DVD BDUDBE SJDOFBUDNDIB D V V E MMK J EKDI EK OK SBIENJDVJF DR KRBKDJDV DBEIENKSN SMJ DEE BSUD NSI HI OK BEMDKDMI BSOIBDISNIDN O W L E N G E DEE
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walkerandfre d d y
...all the Big Bands are welcome...
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walkerandfre d d y
of Ella Fitzgerald ONLY THE VERY EARLY recordings to 1950 please
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matsdw
Magical.
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goodtobe8
Ella was wonderful, Ella and Louie together were wonderful too.
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Don't read this because it actually works. you will be kissed in the nearest friday by the love of your life.however if you don't post this you will die in days. now you have started reading this so don't stop. this is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen big letters this is so scary because it actually works
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bscb
So funny!!! She forget half the song!
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Reminds me of the old jazz singers like Shirley Bassey
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WOW !
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Ella was an epitome of what music
Is all about. She is missed!
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When I die I want all her albums to take along to heaven
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This is amazing
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june is bustin out qll over
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When we ask ourselves what is American, Here is a true American. Through adversity her music made us better.. 51 albums later I am so proud to say she is a true American icon !
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Did you know she was the first person to sing scat. If you don't know what scat is, LOOK IT UP!!!
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littlemisssu n d a y s c h o o l
I wish that we had singers like her still.
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I lojgajhvnguj v r e y a r f g u r r h h vgajysvyiysd u L M b r j n s j g h v j s
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