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Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong

"The First Lady of Song," Ella Fitzgerald was arguably the finest female jazz singer of all time (although some may vote for Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday). Blessed with a beautiful voice and a wide range, Fitzgerald could outswing anyone, was a brilliant scat singer, and had near-perfect elocution; one could always understand the words she sang. The one fault was that, since she always sounded so happy to be singing, Fitzgerald did not always dig below the surface of the lyrics she interpreted and she even made a downbeat song such as "Love for Sale" sound joyous. However, when one evaluates her career on a whole, there is simply no one else in her class.

One could never guess from her singing that Ella Fitzgerald's early days were as grim as Billie Holiday's. Growing up in poverty, Fitzgerald was literally homeless for the year before she got her big break. In 1934, she appeared at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, winning an amateur contest by singing "Judy" in the style of her idol, Connee Boswell. After a short stint with Tiny Bradshaw, Fitzgerald was brought to the attention of Chick Webb by Benny Carter (who was in the audience at the Apollo). Webb, who was not impressed by the 17-year-old's appearance, was reluctantly persuaded to let her sing with his orchestra on a one-nighter. She went over well and soon the drummer recognized her commercial potential. Starting in 1935, Fitzgerald began recording with Webb's Orchestra, and by 1937 over half of the band's selections featured her voice. "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" became a huge hit in 1938 and "Undecided" soon followed. During this era, Fitzgerald was essentially a pop/swing singer who was best on ballads while her medium-tempo performances were generally juvenile novelties. She already had a beautiful voice but did not improvise or scat much; that would develop later.

On June 16, 1939, Chick Webb died. It was decided that Fitzgerald would front the orchestra even though she had little to do with the repertoire or hiring or firing the musicians. She retained her popularity and when she broke up the band in 1941 and went solo; it was not long before her Decca recordings contained more than their share of hits. She was teamed with the Ink Spots, Louis Jordan, and the Delta Rhythm Boys for some best-sellers, and in 1946 began working regularly for Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic. Granz became her manager although it would be nearly a decade before he could get her on his label. A major change occurred in Fitzgerald's singing around this period. She toured with Dizzy Gillespie's big band, adopted bop as part of her style, and started including exciting scat-filled romps in her set. Her recordings of "Lady Be Good," "How High the Moon," and "Flying Home" during 1945-1947 became popular and her stature as a major jazz singer rose as a result. For a time (December 10, 1947-August 28, 1953) she was married to bassist Ray Brown and used his trio as a backup group. Fitzgerald's series of duets with pianist Ellis Larkins in 1950 (a 1954 encore with Larkins was a successful follow-up) found her interpreting George Gershwin songs, predating her upcoming Songbooks series.

After appearing in the film Pete Kelly's Blues in 1955, Fitzgerald signed with Norman Granz's Verve label and over the next few years she would record extensive Songbooks of the music of Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Rodgers & Hart, Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, and Johnny Mercer. Although (with the exception of the Ellington sets) those were not her most jazz-oriented projects (Fitzgerald stuck mostly to the melody and was generally accompanied by string orchestras), the prestigious projects did a great deal to uplift her stature. At the peak of her powers around 1960, Fitzgerald's hilarious live version of "Mack the Knife" (in which she forgot the words and made up her own) from Ella in Berlin is a classic and virtually all of her Verve recordings are worth getting.

Fitzgerald's Capitol and Reprise recordings of 1967-1970 are not on the same level as she attempted to "update" her singing by including pop songs such as "Sunny" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," sounding quite silly in the process. But Fitzgerald's later years were saved by Norman Granz's decision to form a new label, Pablo. Starting with a Santa Monica Civic concert in 1972 that is climaxed by Fitzgerald's incredible version of "C Jam Blues" (in which she trades off with and "battles" five classic jazzmen), Fitzgerald was showcased in jazz settings throughout the 1970s with the likes of Count Basie, Oscar Peterson, and Joe Pass, among others. Her voice began to fade during this era and by the 1980s her decline due to age was quite noticeable. Troubles with her eyes and heart knocked her out of action for periods of time, although her increasingly rare appearances found Fitzgerald still retaining her sense of swing and joyful style. By 1994, Ella Fitzgerald was in retirement and she passed away two years later, but she remains a household name and scores of her recordings are easily available on CD. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

There's something about this man's voice. Sigh.
They are very calm
goodtobe8
Their voices may not seem to go together, but somehow it works.
There cool
markle.jacob
I haven't heard the combo, but is sounds like a knockout pair!
Queen Ella & King Louis!!!!!
An UNBEATABLE COMBINATION, & I know they're still singing their hearts out, all over God's Heaven!!!!! (Or "Hebbmm", as Dizzy called it!!! :-) )
I love Ella Fitzgerald!! ! ! !
love this
Ijfgjgngjhdj v j d g s k i m e s
The first lady of jazz. The King and Queen of jazz. Ella and Louis. Awesome. This is real music here. Momma said you won't find any talent like these two today.
gibsonmadis
Classy jazzy sassy is all I have to say I say!��❤️����
gibsonmadis
classy , jazzy, sassy, and that's all I have to say I say!��❤️����
Their voices go flawlessly together
They are flawless together
kmottle1
I don't share the revewer's opinions -- Ella indeed had some ofthe best natural and technical skills ever. But she didn't add the excitement and feeling that makes music come alive...
What A song.And I can say it was like that, easy, rich, don't you cry.
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However, if you don't post this you will die in two days. Now that you've started reading don't stop. This is so scary, so post this on 5 songs in 143 min. When you're done press f6 and your love's name will appear on the screen in big letters.
estefanimz
This music brings life to my soul
Black history month Louie & Ella good stuff This is what Jim Crow tried to stop. You can kill the dreamer but you can't kill the DREAM.
Great rendition... m m m !
I disagree with biography. Billie Holiday was strictly second-class compared to either Ella or Sarah Vaughn
craterfist
Hail from VT! I now love this song.
denny.erdman
Superb!!!
Just Beautiful!!! !
denny.erdman
Words are inadequate to describe this incredible pairing of pure talent. Love that 1956 album cover - says it all.
strwbrycrm
I listen to Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong almost everyday. With her soothing n sassy voice. His raspy voice n talent w the trumpet, great music, together & solos. Takes me to where I want to b, peace within. Thanks n RIP. XO
jalauria16.a c t r e s s m e
I like this better than all this rap. I have a old soul. {I'm not old}
noodlespoodl e s
This genre makes the world a better place
Ella and Satchmo. And Jeffrey, Gina and Brenna...Don ' t you kids let this treasure be wasted.
Oh my! The roll call of the magnificent in this profile. These where the Golden Years and the wonderful people that made it.
I like Satchmo's flood Pants on the album cover LOL
@johnnyohani a n . No, she shattered a glass with her voice for real and on purpose. It was awesome.
johnnyohania n
is that true..shatte r e d a glass. accident or staged?
Ella has a sexy but yet powerful voice she shattered a glass ... louie is awesome
Blanket of Blue. How funny. I have a blanket of blue on my bed. AND IT'S FREEZING. Good song.
kylefurban
Bob wills covered this, so , so, cool
Awesome!!
crystalmaewh e e l e r
Gotta love this man! Feel like just closing my eyes!
thereseeamig u e l 7
One of the best vocal team ups!
bemniaraya
Perfection.
When I here Ella I think of my parents that was great music
And I hope yours is wonderful
Today is Rosh Hashanah-- L'Shana Tova
I just love listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
skwilson0505
you can never go wrong with Ella
mcs1606
Don't read this because it actually woks. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in two days. Now you've started reading this don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes when done press f6 and ur lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it works!
Don't read this because it actually woks. You will be kissed on the ne
jenmckinney7 9
Don't read this because it actually woks. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in two days. Now you've started reading this don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes when done press f6 and ur lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it works!
ronmilan
Sugar and spice combo
I agree, it's a lovely song
Please follow me if u read my comment
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