Appropriately enough, the jazz world has spent recent weeks marking the centennial of Ella Fitzgerald with concerts, broadcasts, exhibits, and other celebrations.
When Ella received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1979, fellow vocalist Peggy Lee noted that when experts are asked, “Who is the greatest jazz singer of our time? ….The first reaction is always, ‘Well, you mean aside from Ella, right?'” Lee continued, “Well, that’s closer than most of us would like to admit. She has become, in her time, the standard by which all of the rest of us are measured, and that’s as it should be.”
Ella Fitzgerald and her swing style of vocal jazz transcend the times.
“Along with Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald is the artist who shaped modern popular singing,” said Roberta Gambarini, a Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist and guest artist with Celebrating Ella: The First Lady of Jazz, this week at Manhattan’s Jazz at Lincoln Center.
As Ella prepared to unveil that tune, she told the audience, “We hope we can remember all the words.” Ella begins with great confidence.
Ella’s voice somehow seems three-dimensional on this Sonny Burke/Lionel Hampton/Johnny Mercer ballad. Assisted on this 1964 session by the Nelson Riddle Orchestra and Frank Flynn’s vibraphone, Ella makes these lovely lyrics downright haunting.
Ella blends her enormous talents with those of Duke Ellington, one of jazz’s two dads, as documentarian Ken Burns proved him to be in his landmark PBS series Ken Burns Jazz.
Ella joins forces with jazz’s other dad, Louis Armstrong.