nice it is to come home again!
months of campy vocals, Lounge music (psuedo or otherwise), world
beat and other dalliences in popular music, The Complete Ella
Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong on Verve is like a breath of
fresh air. Hearing two professionals at their peak, playing the
music they know best in a laid-back style they're comfortable with,
has to be something great.
three discs contain the albums Ella & Louis, Ella and Louis
Again, Porgy & Bess plus tracks from the Lp Jazz at the
Hollywood Bowl. A lot of this material has been available in
various forms for a few years but the remastering, unique packaging
and completeness make this a worthy investment.
don't need us to tell you what a grand vocalist Ella Fitzgerald
was, but we're going to anyway. One day long ago we discovered we
could return from work in the foulest mood and play the Gershwin
Songbook by Ella and Nelson Riddle and then be in the finest
of spirits. The double martini helped, but there's no denying Ella's
powers. A lot of critics complained that Ella was almost too pristine
and lacked the soul of say, Billie Holiday. This kind of racsim
is a tad disturbing. Not all black women jazz singers had to have
Billie's grit to be good. It's just not an "either/or" situation.
There's room for everyone but you need to accept that Ella's brand
of jazz was a dry martini and fois gras on toast rather than a swig
from an open bottle of gin and a pickled pig's foot.
of us recall our first impressions of Louis Armstrong playing some
pretty silly versions of pop songs like Hello Dolly,
especially during the later years. Some of us prefer cool Miles
Davis to What a Wonderful World. Again, there's room for
everyone. The Verve recordings Louis made weren't as revoltionary
as his earlier work but they weren't as corny as his Kapp recordings
and his gruff vocals are as effortless as his chops on the
trumpet. Once you get sucked in, you may want to find his date with
Oscar Peterson for more.
songs on The Complete Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
are all standards which works with the loose arrangements because
everyone involved knows the tunes so well. None of the songs are
definitive versions but they're great all the same. Personally,
we never need to hear Let's Do It or Makin' Whoopee
ever again and here we have two very long versions.
Porgy & Bess disc is a mixed bag, but we have to say
that we don't think anyone has recorded the best version of this
yet. In contrast with the first two discs, Porgy & Bess
is a bit prenentious and ambitious. The arrangements (by one of
our favorites, Russ Garcia) are quite orchestrated and often swinging.
Ella does better in this situation but both singers have nice moments.
Nothing quite matches Ella's solo performance of I Loves You
Porgy on Ella in Rome (Verve 835454-2).
be remiss in not advising you to open the CD packaging very carefully.
It's a fussy but attractive accordian style case that must be openedin
a particular way or you'll lose the cover photo.