If you took a poll of critics as to the greatest jazz singers of all time, the triumvirate of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan would undoubtedly emerge as the top tier. Gun to head, I’m an Ella fella. She didn’t have Billie’s emotional gravitas, and nobody’s voice was more luscious than Sassy’s. But Ella was “the instrument”, as agile and surefooted as any first rate soloist, all of it delivered with a powerful sense of swing. And what purity of tone, notes perfectly centered; she opened her mouth and brightness came out. All of which brings me to an ‘All Ella’ Strictly Jazz; three hours to Ella in honor of her centennial birthday (born 4/25/17).
On a personal note, early on I stumbled upon a couple of her Verve recordings — “Mack the Knife” (aka “Ella in Berlin”) and “Ella in Hollywood” — that helped usher me into the jazz world. Still, whenever I hear the monumental scats from those two albums, “How High the Moon” and “Take the A Train,” I have to sing it with her, note for note, either in my head or usually out loud. It’s sort of an involuntary response.
Thus my reverence for The First Lady of Song (that we share the same birthday doesn’t hurt either). Hope you enjoy All Ella and reminder that Strictly Jazz is Saturdays 3:00 a.m.- 6:00 a.m. PT (if you need a wake up call, let me know).