Happy Birthday to Ella!
April 25 2017 is the 100th anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth. The First Lady of Song, as she was called, had a career that spanned five decades. Jazz After Dark will honor our favorite vocalist with a retrospective of her career.
Her first big hit was the nursery rhyme A Tisket, A Tasket. After fronting Chick Webb’s band, and then her own, she then gracefully moved through the bebop era as perhaps the best jazz scatting vocalist of all time. Her Songbook series, studio albums that were comprehensive and definitive presentations of the works of Gershwin, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Rodgers and Hart, Duke Ellington, and others, left a legacy that is unrivalled: an essential compilation of what has become known as the Great American Songbook.
Ella was in many ways a pop singer at a time when jazz was America’s pop music. She was always willing to add new numbers to her repertoire (“the now sound,” she would call it during her live concerts), so she did Jobim, and Bacharach, and even the Beatles. She could make any song swing.
14 Grammies, 40 million albums sold, 300+ performances a year. Ella Fitzgerald was one of the hardest-working musicians in the industry. She worked with all the great names of jazz and was respected by everyone. Private and reticent in person, she shone on stage, reveling in her audience enthusiasm and her playful interactions with the bands.
Music experts tell us that she had perfect pitch, excellent phrasing, a three-octave range. In my opinion what makes her stand out as a vocalist is that she didn’t over-sing, even while displaying one of the most perfectly-tuned vocal instruments of all time. There were more emotive singers among her peers, great artists like Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. But Ella was respectful of the songs she sang. Her studio work was marked by great precision and elocution, while her live performances were joyous and fun.
Join us at 8 pm for a tribute to Ella!