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Part of the program I ran almost two years ago for International Jazz Day. This is the first of two parts featuring what many consider the greatest vocal Jazz albums in history by an artist considered one of the immortals. #ella #Jazz #ellafitzgerald #dukellington #jazzday
By 1957, Fitzgerald was heralded as the greatest voice in Jazz and Pop music. After humble beginnings and decades of hard work, her producer and label owner, Norman Granz, hit pay dirt with the first entry in the Great American Songbook series with tracks by Cole Porter in 1956.
Granz had also paired her with Louis Armstrong for the first of three albums, also in 1956, that cemented her status with the name the press would eventually dub her, The First Lady of Song. She was on a winning streak that no other Jazz vocalist prior or since could match.
Shortly after the first two Armstrong albums and another album of standards (Rogers and Hart) in the Songbook series, she also recorded the first of several releases by the man Time magazine would later name one of the Entertainers of the 20th Century, Duke Ellington. Ellington’s status as a legend was already cemented, and he was on a massive career comeback at the time. The first studio album of recordings Ellington made with Fitzgerald would set the bar so high that the first release, Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Duke Ellington Songbook, is considered one of the all-time essential Jazz recordings in history.
The release was split into two double-album volumes: one with an orchestra, and the other with a small combo. These releases also allowed Fitzgerald to emphasize her scat singing technique, one of her vocal hallmarks.
The artistry was not lost on their peers. The duo would win the very first Grammy award for the album in the Jazz category in 1959. Ellington and Fitzgerald would tour several times, release three other albums of material together, comprising of two live albums and one more studio LP, Ella at Duke’s Place. They would remain close friends until Ellington’s death in 1974.
This is a slightly edited version of programs broadcast in 2019. This part features all six of the tracks I spotlighted then, and next week’s program will feature a slightly altered track list from the remaining releases. For those of you who wish to hear the original broadcasts, please visit my design website at www.aospdx.com and look under the Podcasts tab.
Selections from The Duke Ellington Songbook, 1957
- Rockin’ In Rhythm
- Take The ‘A’ Train
- Cotton Tail
- Sophisticated Lady
- It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)
Love to you all.
Ben “Daddy Ben Bear” Brown Jr.
Host, Show Producer, Webmaster, Audio Engineer, Researcher, Videographer and Writer
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