The First Lady Of Song this weekend. The inimitable Ella Fitzgerald, in concert from Helsinki recorded in March 1965 and recorded by YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting network.
There’s not much you can add about the life and career of Ella Fitzgerald that hasn’t already been well documented in books, albums, essays and articles. She has been a national institution and a worldwide treasure for decades – a voice of enormous range and purity of tone.
And even some 22 years after her death, her music and her popularity continue, pretty much without break. She is an endless source of discovery and inspiration for generations of singers who have come after her.
In the odd event you aren’t familiar – drop everything and make a discovery today. This concert, recorded in Helsinki was one of an exhaustive series of tours Fitzgerald did over the years. This concert is in a small group setting, with Tommy Flanagan on piano, Keter Betts on bass and Gus Johnson on drums. She was equally at home in a big band setting, but the small group and its intimate nature offers a real glimpse into the artist at work.
The material runs a wide range, from standards to then-current pop tunes. But in her hands they get the Fitzgerald touch.
I can’t remember the first time I heard Ella Fitzgerald – I know I was a kid and it was a 78 and it was one of her earlier Decca records. Over the years they’ve turned into albums and CD’s and Streams, but there’s always been some vestige of Ella Fitzgerald in my collection – as I’m sure its the same with most music fans. I can’t really imagine what it would be like, not having Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday in my collection. That’s the stuff that grabs you and doesn’t let go.
Hearing her live recordings – whether in clubs or concert halls, is just icing on an amazing cake.
Hit the Play button and maybe you’ll feel the same way.