We have a very hard time doing the famous Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks due to the fact that so many pressings don’t sound good, and the ones that do sound good are usually noisy.
That’s why it came as a pleasant surprise that Ella At Duke’s Place had the potential for excellent sound and reasonably quiet vinyl on the best copies.
We hope to do more in the future but with the reissues from the ’70s being mostly awful and the originals being harder and harder to find we are not at all sanguine about our chance of success.
We do have this copy though, and it’s a knockout. Ella and/or Ellington fans should get a real kick out of these ten tracks. We did.
The sound is rich and full-bodied in the best tradition of vintage jazz. You could demonstrate your stereo with a record this good. But what you would really be demonstrating is music that the listener probably hasn’t heard, and that’s the best reason to demonstrate a stereo!
Valentin’s list of credits runs for days. Some high points are of course Ella and Louis, and Getz/Gilberto.
Recently we played a copy of We Get Requests by the Oscar Peterson Trio that blew our mind. And we have been big fans of Mel Tormé Swings Shubert Alley for more than a decade.
Pull up his credits on Allmusic. No one I am familiar with other than Rudy Van Gelder recorded more great jazz, and in our opinion Valentin’s recordings are quiet a bit more natural sounding than Rudy’s, especially with regard to the the sound of the piano.
Something To Live For
A Flower Is A Love Something
I Like The Sunrise
Imagine My Frustration
Brown Skin Gal In The Calico Gown
What Am I Here For
Ella Fitzgerald’s second studio session with Duke Ellington followed her first (Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book) by eight years. The underrated set begins quietly with four emotional ballads (who else could hold their own with Johnny Hodges on “Passion Flower?”) before Fitzgerald gets to scat a bit on the closing vamp of “Azure,” comes up with fresh ideas on “Duke’s Place,” and closes the show by scatting up a storm on “Cotton Tail.”
The band makes its presence known in the ensembles, some solos by tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, altoist Hodges and trumpeter Cootie Williams (whose opening spot on “Duke’s Place” is quite jubilant), and the high-note trumpet of Cat Anderson. Ella Fitzgerald is heard in peak form throughout this date. Recommended.