Top Artists – Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald – Newport Jazz Festival Live at Carnegie Hall – Reviewed in 2007

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This is a very good sounding live album, recorded when Ella Fitzgerald could still sing. Most of her stuff for Pablo which followed this leaves much to be desired in my opinion. This album is certainly not the equal of her best work from the ’60s, but I’m guessing it’s better than anything she did after this.

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Porgy & Bess

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

WOW! Triple Plus (A+++) sound on ALL FOUR SIDES for this Ella & Louis classic. This copy sold for $850 and we think it was worth every penny — it blew our minds! 

The sound is big, open, rich and full, with the performers front and center. Ella and Louis are no longer representations — they’re living, breathing persons. We call that “the breath of life,” and this original stereo pressing has it in spades. 

Their voices are so rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality, you immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you. (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – The Best of Ella Fitzgerald – Reviewed in 2005

 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Two Minty looking Deccalite Pink Label Promo LPs.

This is the best of Ella’s Decca material recorded between 1938 – 1955, the songs that made her a star.

For those of you who don’t know what Deccalite is, Deccalite is a material that Decca invented as an alternative to vinyl. It’s quieter than vinyl as a rule — and these pressings are extremely quiet — but it is not unbreakable. If you wack this record against a chair, it will shatter into pieces like an old 78. But most audiophiles takes good care of their records, so the risk of breaking an album like this is extremely small.

Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Swings Lightly

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Exceptionally lovely All Tube sound from 1958, with a huge, rich orchestra conducted by our man, Marty Paich. Grammy Award for Best Improvised Jazz Solo – these were the days when Ella was on top of the world.

When you are lucky enough to find a album that sounds as good as this one, full of standards from the Great American Songbook, you cannot help but recognize that this era for Ella will never be equaled, by her or anyone else. (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Sings the Harold Arlen Song Book #2

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

The first Harold Arlen Song Book to hit the site, and with sound like this it’s going to be very hard to beat. White Hot on side two, Super Hot on side one, Ella is especially rich, Tubey Magical and breathy throughout. Look at the great songs on Volume 2: Come Rain Or Come Shine, It’s Only A Paper Moon, One For My Baby, Get Happy, I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues, Over The Rainbow and more.  

The vinyl is about as quiet and scratch-free as we ever come across on these early stereo pressings. Even with us hitting multiple stores every week we have trouble finding even one clean copy of an album like this a year.

But we found this one, and it won our shootout. (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – The Johnny Mercer Song Book

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

The huge, rich orchestral sound captured so beautifully by Val Valentin is always one of the many highlights to be found on the songbook series. By the time this album came out in 1964 Ella had already recorded 18 LPs worth of songbooks – this was the last, going out on a high note. Some of the Mercer Classics here are Too Marvelous For Words, Day In – Day Out, Laura, Skylark, Midnight Sun, I Remember You.  

When you are lucky enough to find a album that sounds as good as this one, full of standards from the Great American Songbook, you cannot help but recognize that this era for Ella will never be equaled, by her or anyone else.

The recording is outstanding, with huge amounts of space and midrange richness that might just take your breath away. (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Ella At Duke’s Place

 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

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. (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Sings The Irving Berlin Song Book – Reviewed in 2005

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This is a very nice looking Verve Strobe Label Double LP. The quality of the sound changes here not only from side to side but from track to track. We dropped the needle on various songs on each side and side three had the best sounding songs we heard. Every side had some great sounding songs, some with tubey magic and breathy vocals. How About Me and Cheek to Cheek on side two sound particularly good.  

AMG Review

These selections are perfectly suited for Fitzgerald’s voice and her romantic sensibility; they are happy, occasionally sad, and full of swinging rhythm. A few of these songs — “Cheek to Cheek,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” and “Blue Skies” — will be most familiar; others, “Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails,” “Russian Lullaby,” and “All By Myself” are as memorable but perhaps less known… For fans who have enjoyed other songbook recordings, this is a must-have; for those unfamiliar with Fitzgerald’s songbook work, this is an excellent place to start.

Ella Fitzgerald – Whisper Not – Our Shootout Winner from 2006

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Whisper Not

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST ELLA FITZGERALD RECORDS I’ve heard 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. 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 sometime in the ’60s she started making bad records. I know. I’ve played them. Misty Blue comes to mind. 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.) (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald & Count Basie – Ella and Basie! – Reviewed in 2004

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This early British import KILLS the Speakers Corner 180 gram reissue! I still like their version but this is what it should have sounded like: tonally much fuller and richer. The 180 gram copy suffers from the standard reissue MO — brighter is not necessarily better, and definitely not when you have a big band and a vocalist, as is the case here. I’ve never heard this album sound better and I doubt that it really can sound much better than this. This copy makes me want to turn it up as loud as the stereo will go and let those wonderful Quincy Jones arrangements come to life! (more…)