Archive for Ella Fitzgerald

One Hundred Years of Ella Fitzgerald

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on April 25, 2017 by telescoper

This morning Radio 3 reminded me that the great jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald was born exactly one hundred years ago today, on April 25th 1917. She passed away in 1996, but her legacy lives on through a vast array of wonderful recordings. I couldn’t resist marking the anniversary of her birth with this track, which I hope brings a smile to your face as it does to mine every time I listen to it. This track won her  Grammy award for the best vocal performance that year, which is pretty remarkable because she forgot the lyrics to the song! Besides this, there’s a lot of other great stuff on the album Ella in Berlin (including more improvised lyrics and some sensational scat singing on How High The Moon) so if you’re looking to start an Ella Fitzgerald collection this is a great place to start.

Mack the Knife had been a huge hit for Louis Armstrong in 1956 and then again for Bobby Darin in 1959. By all accounts Ella was prevailed upon to add it to her repertoire for live concerts. She wasn’t that keen but  reluctantly agreed. Obviously however she wasn’t so  enthusiastic as to actually learn the words! On the other hand, when you have a wonderful voice and an amazing musical imagination, who needs the words? Ella not only made up some lyrics herself on the fly, but also threw in a rather wonderful Louis Armstrong impersonation for good measure. Enjoy!




Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

Posted in Music with tags , , on January 26, 2017 by telescoper

Given that I love the Opera so much, I often wonder why it is that I dislike musicals so much. I’ve heard people say that it’s snobbery of some sort. I don’t think that’s true at all. After all, I do love a lot of the songs that appear in musicals – especially those from the classic American composers, such as Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein and (in this particular case) Rodgers and Hart. I’d say some of these songs are among the cleverest, wittiest and most engaging musical pieces ever composed. I suppose it must be that I just don’t find the shows themselves as interesting as some of the songs in them.

Anyway, I’ve had this one at the back of my mind since I heard it on Private Passions recently. It is from the musical Pal Joey was picked by Alan Bennett who praised it for its brilliant lyrics, full of cheeky rhymes, such as:

Vexed again, perplexed again
Thank God, I can be oversexed again

And this great song is made greater still in this performance by the sublime vocal artistry of the late great Ella Fitzgerald.

Let’s call the whole thing off

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , on April 12, 2013 by telescoper

I’m up early to travel up to the Big Smoke where I’ll be all day todayday today so here’s something nice while I’m away. Music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and vocals by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. Who could ask for anything more? Take it away, Ella & Louis!

Stormy Weather

Posted in Biographical, Jazz with tags , , on January 3, 2012 by telescoper

The weather has been inclement since New Year’s Eve, but today it got even worse.  Things are even more scary elsewhere in the UK; I heard from friends in Edinburgh that gusts of 102 mph have been recorded at the Royal Observatory, for example. I hope they’ve battened down the hatches. Here in Cardiff its pretty windy too, but the main problem has been heavy rain. There are flood alerts all across South Wales, including on the River Taff very close to my house as I write this. Since I’ve got a few things to do I think I’ll go and take a peek. The last time such a thing happened, the city’s flood defences held but the Taff did break its banks on Pontcanna Fields (which is actually meant to happen, to take the strain off the flood barriers nearer the city). Anyway I’ve got a few things to do so I think I’ll take a walk to the river and see how it looks. If I don’t come back please send a lifeboat.

In the meantime, here’s a piece of music to calm the storms, by the great Ella Fitzgerald accompanied by the equally great Joe Pass on guitar. ..

Well, back from a short trip down the Taff Embankment, here are a few pics of the scene…

The SWALEC Stadium is to the left, water level about 2m above the pitch right now, but protected by the embankment

The trees are usually above the water level, the nursery beyond is about 2m above current water level

I have seen the Taff higher than this, but only once!

White Water with Weeping Willow

The Millennium Stadium is just beyond the Bridge