November 17, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Ella Fitzgerald

The First Lady of Song, that's Ella Fitzgerald. She is the greatest female jazz singer and carried a voice that could hardly be rivaled. It was like a sunbeam bursting through a cloudbank, it came shooting at you only to bathe you in the sweetest, silkiest sounds. If you're not greatly familiar with Ella the best thing to do is familiarize yourself with her early work with Dizzy Gillespie. While she started out at places like the Savoy Ballroom doing big band swing and jazz, it was the bebop sound of the mid to late 40s that fit her freewheeling style. Her work with Gillespie kicked off her scat singing, where she "tried to do [with my voice] what I heard the horns in the band doing." And it was amazing. From the 1940s on Fitzgerald established herself as one of the greats, if not the greatest, scat singer in jazz alongside of Scatman Crothers and Mel Torme. Over the years she knew how to tap into the current music scene zeitgeist and was able to do some great cross-over work during the sixties -- as she did with her 1968 cover of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love". In the seventies she returned to a more pure jazz sound that solidified her as the genre's leading lady. "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" was recorded with the Tommy Flanagan Trio in 1974 in Paris. The song's sound amazingly winds it way right through her own life history from belting boldness, to spunk scatting, to that deap and throaty greatness that epitomized her later years. It's an amazing retrospective of her signature sounds, complete with zound-zound-zounds and bah-bah-bawawadoozooya-yeahs at the end.

Ella Fitzgerald -- Sunshine of Your Love

Ella Fitzgerald -- I Can't Give You Anything But Love

Ella Fitzgerald -- One Note Samba