Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Jazz Icons Ella Fitzgerald Live in '57 and '63|
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
Jazz Icons: Ella Fitzgerald features ¬"The First Lady Of Song¬" in two distinct performances. The fi rst is the earliest known complete concert of Ella to be captured on fi lm. Shot in Belgium, this 1957 concert has her ... more »
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Classic footage of the queen of scat
Joe Sixpack -- Slipcue.com | ...in Middle America | 10/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This disc features concert footage of two of Ella Fitzgerald's European performances. The first, filmed in Belgium in 1957 crackles with cool, even though the somewhat prim and proper Belgian audience never really loosens up and gives Ella enough energy to work with. Thus, it's a fairly reserved set... but, man, is it classy! She good-naturedly zips through standards and longtime faves, accompanied by several top-flight sidemen, including Jo Jones on drums, a lanky, young Ray Brown on bass, and Herb Ellis on guitar. Their solos and improvisations are minimal -- this is a pretty formal performance -- but they all radiate competence and calm. Unannounced, Roy Eldridge and Oscar Petersen drop in to jam at the end of the set -- sadly, the film crew's static framing fails to catch Petersen's finger work, opting instead to linger on the set shots of the regular band. Still, you can't help but be wowed by Ella, and feel that you're being a glimpse of her utter greatness, seeing her work the room in this grand concert hall. The second set is more intimate, with Ella and a small combo led by pianist Tommy Flanagan playing on Swedish TV in 1963... Although the cheerful, informal vibe is great, this is also from a period where Ella's work was a bit rushed and perfunctory, with an emphasis on energy and speed, and acrobatic scatting. It's not my favorite Ella sound, but some folks love it, and this is a nice chance to see her up close and personal in her early '60s persona. All in all, this is a good glimpse at one of jazz music's all-time greats."
John Ellis | New York, NY United States | 02/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ella Fitzgerald was the great classical actress of the great jazz singers. The Belgium concert is just stunning, Ella at her absolute best in her prime. Polite, deeply grounded, she hardly moves, just that great voice coming out of that almost impassive face, a deep well with a placid surface. Very much like John Gielgud in one of his Shakespeare roles on stage (which I was lucky enough to see once).
The second concert is very good too, though her upper register was a little hoarse by then. She actually does the twist at one point, her thick body out of sync with her voice's rhythms. The "Mack the Knife" is stellar.
Her backup bands on both are wonderful to watch as well, great talents who aren't suffering as you often see lesser actors or musicians do on stage, enjoying the hell out making such wonderful sounds, happy to be behind a talent like hers. Even the audience shots on the Belgian film are fascinating, intense and rapt deadly serious devotees who burst into staccato applause at odd moments.
Let this series keep digging and hope there is more out there."
The Ella disc I've been waiting for!
R. Erickson | Moorpark, CA USA | 01/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've purchased all of Ella's available concert DVD's and they're all worth having, but this one is from a period in her career when she was pretty much omnipotent. The '57 concert in Belgium, in particular, with Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, Jo Jones and an appearance by Oscar Peterson on "It Don't Mean a Thing...", shows her in flawless form. Not a lot of show business by today's standards, she just stands there and sings as beautifully as any human ever has...who could ask for anything more?"
Everything you could want from Ella (except big band backup)
James A. Vedda | Alexandria, VA USA | 04/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My preference has always been for instrumental jazz, but Ella is one of the few jazz vocalists who caught and held my attention. I only had one opportunity to see this truly unique performer in concert - in front of the Count Basie band in the 1970s - so it's a joy to experience Ella performing live again through the miracle of modern technology.
The DVD presents two appearances, the first in a concert hall in Belgium in 1957 and the second in a Swedish television studio in 1963. Ella is on top of her game for both, and the selection of tunes makes for a great showcase of her talents. It's all here: her creative embellishments of the melody, her scat singing, and her occasional use of improvised lyrics to add local flavor or pay tribute to other jazz artists.
It would be difficult to pick which of these two dates was the better performance. Overall, her interpretive powers are better displayed in the 1963 show, especially in fabulous renditions of "No Moon At All," "Runnin' Wild," "Georgia On My Mind," and "Mack the Knife." But the 1957 concert has many special moments that are not to be missed. "Lullaby of Birdland" is an up-tempo swinger that is the best vocal version of this tune you're ever likely to hear. "April in Paris" pays homage to the Basie arrangement that was destined to become a classic. Ella has some fun with "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" where she does an excellent impersonation of Louis Armstrong. The concert closes with Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing," complete with scat choruses and great solo work from Herb Ellis on guitar and Oscar Peterson on piano.
The only other thing I'd like to see to complete the Ella experience is concert video of "The First Lady of Song" in front of a big band. Maybe the Jazz Icons series can find enough old footage for a second Ella DVD."