Ella Fitzgerald / Whisper Not and Comments on Her Pablo Period

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Ella Fitzgerald Albums We’ve Reviewed

Our commentary from ten or fifteen years ago. Please to enjoy.

Whisper Not is one of the best Ella records we’ve played in a very long time. I’m telling you, this is Ella at her best! Having just played a lovely sounding copy of Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie, an album that tends to err on the bright side, I now realize that this album has the opposite problem — it’s a little bit smoother in places than it should be. Of course that’s a much more tolerable problem than the reverse.  

These are the comments for the last copy we had on the site.

For whatever reason, I’ve never stumbled upon a clean copy of this record. Consequently, I’d never heard it up until recently.

But my local record store had one sitting in the bin one day in lovely condition, which presented me with the perfect opportunity to find out whether this album presented the early “good” Ella or the later “bad” Ella.

Because some time in the ’60s she started making bad records. I know. I’ve played them. Misty Blue comes to mind but there are more than a dozen that we used to have on this blog in the Hall of Shame, and we will be putting them back up here at some point.

Everything she ever did for Pablo comes to mind. Some of you out there have told me that you actually like some of her Pablo material, but I cannot share your enthusiasm for those recordings. In my opinion she had completely lost it by the time she hooked up with her old buddy Norman Granz in the ’70s.

On the cover of this record she looks a little frumpy, and I was afraid this album was going to be frumpy too. I’m glad to say that the opposite is true. This album swings with the best she’s ever recorded. A lot of the credit much go to Marty Paich, one of my all-time favorite arrangers. Ever since I heard what he did for Art Pepper on his Modern Jazz Classics record for Contemporary I have been a big fan. This album just solidifies my love for the guy.

A couple of high points on this record: Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most, the song Ella sang on her masterpiece, Clap Hands, is here rearranged for the players at hand, and the interpretation is fresh and moving. The song I Said No is filled with silly double entendres and is a hoot.

But I have to say those are two high points picked almost at random. Every track on this album is wonderful. I think this is one of her three or four best recordings ever. (Another is the Johnny Mercer songbook album.)

Anyway, take it from an Ella fan, you can’t go wrong with this one.

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!

Paich adds to the overall sound quality by varying the arrangements from song to song, carefully wrapping each tune in the right package. These fine-tuned arrangements also provide the perfect launching pad for Fitzgerald to place her own stamp on material associated with other singers. While both “Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)” and “You’ve Changed” will be recognized as Billie Holiday classics, Fitzgerald delivers light, elegant versions that are distinctly her own.– AMG

TRACK LISTING

Sweet Georgia Brown 
Whisper Not 
I Said No 
Thanks for the Memory 

This is without a doubt my favorite track on this whole album. Ella’s version here is definitive. This track alone is worth the price of the album.

Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most 

Arranged for big band, this interpretation is every bit as emotionally satisfying as the version on Clap Hands.

Old MacDonald Had a Farm
Time After Time
You’ve Changed
I’ve Got Your Number
Lover Man
Wives and Lovers
Matchmaker {from Fiddler on the Roof}