Usually this time of year, I’m big on picking up some new Christmas music, but this year I couldn’t resist treating the house to a new recording by Miss Ella Fitzgerald (Miss Ella, to me – I love her). I chose this one, Pure Ella, The Very Best of Ella Fitzgerald and for Buster it was a revelation.
I was playing it in one room, wrapping gifts, and just about the time Miss Ella got wailing on You’ll Have To Swing It (Mr. Paganini) Buster came tearing in demanding to know who I was playing.
“It’s Miss Ella,” I said. “You should recognise her, I’ve played her enough.”
“THAT’S Miss Ella?” He exclaimed. “You’ve never played Miss Ella sounding like that! She’s always sounded so ladylike before, this woman is a Jazzman! She’s John Coltraine with a voice! She’s rocking.”
“She’s scatting,” I said.
“Ma, that’s way beyond scatting – this woman is a monster. She’s swinging it like she invented it and owns it and knows it.”
“Well, I think maybe she did invent it,” I said. “Miss Ella’s the greatest. Frank Sinatra said she taught him everything he knew about phrasing and breath control…”
Buster listened to the rest of the recording with me, and by it’s end (a breath-taking rendition of “Oh, Lady be Good)” he said, “Well, Miss Ella may have taught Sinatra everything he knew…but she clearly didn’t teach him everything SHE knew.”
Of course she didn’t. Miss Ella was a genius and a lady. A lady never tells all she knows.
Pure Ella is doing her swing thing and burning down the house on this album. For anyone who thinks Miss Ella was just some demure girl singer in front of the band, pick this one up and prepare to be blown away.
Oh, and thanks to reader Rand I am reminded to recommend to you one of the Greatest Christmas Albums of All Time, which would be We Three Kings, by The Roches.
I am glad to do it as I quite agree with him that it’s a singularly spectacular collection of Christmas songs by three sisters who have spent a lifetime singing them and still manage to sound fresh. From the opening bars of Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light to the end, it’s a joyride, and their version of We Three Kings (one of my all-time favorites) is – with it’s haunting arabesque sax phrase and expressive verses, the definitive version of that carol, for me. If you are unfamiliar with The Roches, give a listen over at Amazon. You’ll love this album!
Enchanting Miss Ella singing Summertime: